Fans were held inside the Belgian national stadium for more than two hours after the suspected terrorist attack in Brussels that claimed the lives of two Swedish nationals.
The first half of the Euro 2024 qualifiers was played on Monday evening at the Stade Roi Baudouin in the capital, but it was abandoned at 1-1 after consultation with both teams and local police.
It has been confirmed that two Swedish nationals have been shot dead and the country’s terror alert has been raised to its highest level, meaning there is a very serious and imminent threat.
No suspects have been arrested and police have cordoned off the scene.
The shooting is believed to have taken place on Boulevard d’Ypres around 7 p.m. local time, about five kilometers from the 35,000-seat stadium, but it is unclear whether the victims were expected to attend the match.
Sweden coach Janne Andersson later confirmed that the players had called for the match to be stopped when they learned of the shootout.
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“I felt like it was completely unreal,” he said. “What kind of world do we live in today? I was supposed to have a good chat with the players but I heard it and almost started crying.
“When the team started talking, we were in 100 percent agreement that we did not want to continue, out of respect for the victims and their families.”
Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof, who is Sweden’s captain, said the security around the team made the team “comfortable”.
“They explained that it was the safest place in Brussels,” he said.
“Belgium is already qualified and we don’t have the opportunity to reach the European Championship, so I don’t see any reason to play.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo expressed his thoughts on X, writing: “My deepest condolences to those close to this cowardly attack in Brussels.
“I have just offered my sincere condolences to the Swedish Prime Minister following this evening’s harrowing attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones. As close partners, the fight against terrorism is a shared fight.”
Although the motives for the attacks have not been confirmed, talkSPORT has been told that Swedish fans at the ground have been advised not to display yellow or blue clothing.
Shortly before 11 p.m., Belgium’s National Crisis Center announced that the stadium was being evacuated and advised those inside to return home immediately.
A man, who identified himself as a member of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility in a video posted online and said he was a fighter for Allah.
A video on social media appears to show a man holding a gun claiming to be a member of ISIS (Islamic State) and “fighting for Allah”.
It was also widely reported that the man in question said he carried out the attack as “revenge in the name of Muslims.”
On Tuesday morning, it was reported that police had arrested a suspect. A spokesperson for the prosecution, Eric Van Duyse, told AFP that the police had “opened fire” when apprehending the man, but did not specify whether he was injured.