Sweden captain Victor Lindelof has called for the Euro 2024 qualifying match against Belgium to be canceled after two Swedish supporters were shot dead in a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels on Monday evening.
The match in the King Baudouin Stadium was stopped during half-time after the pair, who were reportedly wearing Swedish shirts, were shot in the city before the match.
Swedish supporters were locked in the stadium until 4 a.m., while Swedish players were taken to the airport under a police escort.
When the match was stopped, the score was 1-1. Viktor Gyokeres gave Sweden a fifteen-minute lead, but Romelu Lukaku brought Belgium level just after the half hour.
And Lindelof insisted there was ‘no reason to finish the match’ as Belgium have already qualified for Euro 2024, while Sweden mathematically cannot.
Victor Lindelof has called for the Euro 2024 qualifying match against Belgium to be canceled after two Swedish supporters were shot dead
The qualifying match for the 2024 European Championship in Brussels was stopped at half-time on Monday evening
Swedish supporters were held in the stadium by Belgian police until 4 a.m
“Belgium is already qualified and we don’t have the chance to go to the European Championship, so I don’t see any reason to (replay the match),” the Manchester United defender said.
Belgian Football Association CEO Manu Leroy revealed that news of the attack filtered through before the match, but Euro 2024 was allowed to start after police and security services were consulted.
‘Ten minutes before the match, reports came in about what had happened around the stadium.
‘In consultation with the security and order services, it was then announced whether we could start the match.’
Leroy also explained that the decision to abandon the match was made after Lindelof announced that the Swedish players did not want to play in the second half.
‘After the first half, Sweden’s captain announced that they did not want to start the second half.
It was then important to discuss with the police how we could best evacuate the stadium.
‘The decision was made at the highest level at 11.45 pm.
Sweden manager Janne Anderson (centre) spoke to the media shortly after the match was abandoned
Emil Holm and his teammates received a police escort to the airport on Monday evening
King Baudouin Stadium police patrolled Swedish fans until it was safe to leave
‘We stood by and looked at how we could best lead people outside. The Swedish fans received a police escort, the players left under a police escort to the airport to fly back to their home country.’
When asked if the match will resume at a later date or if it could be replayed from the beginning, Leroy said: “Only time will tell. It’s surreal what happened. The players quickly knew at halftime that the situation was serious, but first we had to get confirmation of the facts.
‘As far as the Belgian players are concerned: Everyone was allowed to leave as agreed. Some went home, others to the players’ hotel.’
Amid disturbing scenes, UEFA released a statement confirming the cancellation, which happened at half-time during the match at the King Baudouin Stadium. Swedish fans were asked to remain in the ground for their own safety.
It read: ‘Following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels this evening, after consultation with the two teams and local police, it has been decided that the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifier between Belgium and Sweden will be abandoned. Further communication will take place in due course.”
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the motive behind the attack was that the victims were Swedish.
‘Last night three people left for what should have been a wonderful football party. “Two of them were killed in a brutal terrorist attack,” he said.
A third Swedish fan is also believed to have been seriously injured as the alleged attacker claimed to be a member of ISIS seeking revenge for the killing of a six-year-old American-Palestinian boy.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the motive behind the attack was that the victims were Swedish
Local authorities in Brussels are treating the attack as terrorism-related
‘The perpetrator specifically targeted Swedish supporters who were in Brussels to attend the match against Belgium.
‘Two Swedish fans have died. A third person is recovering from serious injuries.”
Belgian Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne told the press conference that the suspect was a 45-year-old Tunisian man who applied for asylum in Belgium in November 2019 and was known to the police for human smuggling and illegal stay in Belgium.
The police are still looking for him.