German authorities have called off a soccer match between Germany and Netherlands after security officials found a suspicious suitcase inside the HDI Arena in Hannover, according to latest reports emerging in the German media.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and a few members of the German cabinet were expected to be present at the match.
Hannover Mayor Stefan Schostok spoke to German newspaper Bild about the decision, though he refused to divulge more details about the perceived attacks.
“Safety is paramount. This is a fear you will always have. I trust the police have made the right decision. If a threat situation exists, then those steps must be taken.”
The Hannover stadium, where the match was supposed to begin at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST), began evacuation procedures less than two hours before kick-off, according to BBC News. The president of Hannover Police said that there was a “concrete security threat,” “there were plans for some kind of explosion,” and that the stadium in Hannover has been evacuated to avoid “taking any chances”.
The HDI arena in Hannover is a multipurpose 49,000 capacity stadium, which is also locally known as the Niedersachsenstadion, and is the home stadium of Bundesliga soccer team Hannover 96. This is the second international soccer friendly to be called off after Belgium’s friendly with Spain in Brussels was abandoned yesterday, after security concerns were raised following reports that some of the Paris attackers were seeking refuge in the Belgian capital.
However, that friendly was cancelled a day in advance, whereas Germany’s game against Netherlands has been called off at the last moment. Latest reports suggest that there were no signs of panic among people who had come to watch the game, with most fans apparently accepting the decision with resignation. The police, who were inaccessible by all accounts, became more forceful with members of the media who attempted to stay at the venue.
According to reports, there had also been a bomb threat about an hour earlier outside the HDI stadium, and the streets leading to the stadium had been sealed off before a thorough police investigation took place.
Sky Sports reports that an increased number of armed German federal police forces have also been deployed at Hannover Hauptbahnhof, the city’s main train station, as well as at its airport in order to increase safety in the wake of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
Germany had initially not wanted the game to go ahead, having played against France in Paris when the attacks took place on Friday night. As the Inquisitr reported, the German contingent of more than 80 players, coaches, and staff had to spend the night in the changing rooms of the Stade de France stadium before leaving for the airport on Saturday morning.
But finally, after much deliberation, players, coaches, and the national football association decided to proceed with the game in a show of unity with the French.
Earlier in the day, German police had confirmed that four more arrests had been made in Aachen, an area close to Germany’s border with Belgium and the Netherlands, following the earlier arrests of three people outside a job center in the town, according to the Irish Times.
The abandoning of Germany’s match against Netherlands is, however, expected to bear no impact on England’s match against France at Wembley, which is set to go ahead even after the Hannover stadium evacuation.
[Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images]