Newspaper headlines: 'Defiant' Wembley, Putin IS shift, Syria refugees and Sheen HIV announcement

The decision to go ahead with the friendly between England and France at Wembley four days after the Paris attacks meant the match was never going to be about football. And while the hosts beat Les Bleus 2-0, it is not surprising to see there is little focus on the result in Wednesday's press.

In the Guardian, Barney Ronay says England and France "played out an international friendly football match unlike any other".

"If the atmosphere inside Wembley stopped short of the unbound emotion some had predicted, this was to be expected given the wider sense of unprocessed shock from some horribly raw and bloody events."

Robert Hardman in the Daily Mail is among those to admit the England fans' attempt to join in the singing of La Marseillaise left much to be desired - but the message behind it was what counted on the night.

"Last night's friendly fixture against England had been elevated from sporting event to symbol of national and international solidarity," he says.

For Paul Joyce in the Daily Express, as the French national anthem reverberated around Wembley "it carried with it a sense of pride and empowerment, boldness and strength".

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"Above all else, it brought an overwhelming a feeling of unity. Here was a soundtrack of defiance, sung with raw emotion by supposed rivals who instead stood shoulder to shoulder in the stands and then also on the pitch."

The Daily Mirror says Wembley hosted one of its "greatest victories" as the teams "came together to defy terrorism" while the Sun says "football refused to bow to the threat of terror".

For the Daily Star, the players were showing the world that "life will go on".

The Times' chief football correspondent Oliver Kay writes: "It was an evening for liberté and égalité, but above all, it was an evening for fraternité."

Sam Wallace in the Daily Telegraph sees the apparently impromptu decision to have a joint team photo as the evening's most poignant gesture.

"It was a very different pre-match protocol, on a very different night for international football."


'Putin's policy shift'

Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to authorise closer co-operation with French military action in Syria is being seen by some commentators as the formal start of a shift in the fight against Islamic State militants.

The Financial Times says the threat from IS is driving a "growing rapprochement" and the call underlined the "co-operation between Russia and Western allies operating in Syria".

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The Daily Mail sees President's Putin's move as "a dramatic policy shift".

In its leader column, the Times says "France and Russia are now leading the world's response in a defacto alliance that ignores recent history and threatens to make bit players of Britain and the US".

Mary Dejevsky in the Independent agrees that President Putin "is suddenly at the centre of a fast-changing diplomatic scene" but says Russia and the West could have been on the same side long before now.

For Simon Tisdall in the Guardian the reason for the change in policy is not a mystery.

"Under merciless attack from Islamic State, flailing on the refugee crisis, and consequently desperate to end the war in Syria, European leaders, backed by Obama, have come to an uncomfortable but, in historical terms, not wholly novel conclusion: they need Russia."


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Refugee impact

There are further indications that the attacks in Paris have had an impact on support for the cause of refugees from Syria.

A poll in the Times suggests public backing for allowing Syrian refugees to settle in Britain has "slumped". The survey of nearly 1,700 people this week survey found 49% believed the UK should accept fewer or no refugees, a 22-point increase from September. And the proportion who think Britain should take more refugees dropped from 36% to 20%.

The latest reports suggest claims that one of the Paris assailants had posed as a Syrian refugee may turn out to discredited. But in the Daily Express, Arron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign group, maintains the attacks show Europe's open borders policy allows people and weapons to be trafficked too easily.

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Ian Birrell in The Guardian says while alarm over refugees is "understandable" after the attacks, it is "profoundly wrong".

"There are justified questions over the future of the Schengen area. But those calling for Europe to reject refugees should ask why people board overloaded boats," he writes.

And in the view of the Independent, the outrages in Paris must not change Britain's plans "to offer succour to people in need".

"We should have nothing to fear from people who have been driven here by terror and will arrive full of hope," it says, noting that French men "radicalised by alienation from the state" were at the forefront of the attacks in Paris.

The Financial Times addresses the call by some US states to ban Syrian refugees in the wake of Paris attacks. Blaming refugees is a flawed view of the problem and President Obama is right to reject their views, it says.


More on the Paris attacks

  • The Times: Is it the end for European dream of free travel?
  • The Independent: France calls for Britain to give European police access to DNA database
  • The Guardian: Corbyn faces open revolt over stance on terror and lethal force

What the commentators say...

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Media captionLucy Cavendish from the Times and Tom Bergin, business correspondent at Reuters, join the BBC News Channel to review Wednesday's front pages.

Sheen's announcement

The confirmation by the actor Charlie Sheen that he is HIV positive leads the Sun and Daily Mail to suggest he could face legal claims from several former lovers.

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The Daily Telegraph reports the 50-year-old had been subjected to rumours about his health for months but went on live television in the US to say that he had been diagnosed four years ago, and was speaking out partly to end blackmail.

In the Daily Mirror, Jonathan Blake one of the first people in the UK to be diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s, says the actor's interview "hasn't helped the struggle to combat the stigma and misinformation that still surrounds the illness".

And another person with HIV, Hunter Charlton, writes in the Independent that the media reaction to the story suggests attitudes towards the virus have "sadly changed little".


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