Sweden captain Victor Lindelof has called for his country’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Belgium not to end after two Swedish fans were shot dead in a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels on Monday evening.
The match at the King Baudouin Stadium was abandoned at halftime after the two men, who were wearing Swedish jerseys, were shot dead in the city before the match.
Swedish fans were locked inside the stadium until 4 a.m., while Swedish players were taken to the airport under police escort.
The score was 1-1 when the match was stopped. Viktor Gyokeres put Sweden ahead in the 15th minute, but Romelu Lukaku equalized for Belgium just after the half-hour mark.
And Lindelof insisted there was “no reason to finish the match”, given Belgium have already qualified for Euro 2024, while Sweden mathematically cannot do so.
Victor Lindelof called for his country’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Belgium not to end after two Swedish fans were shot dead
The Euro 2024 qualifying match in Brussels was abandoned at half-time on Monday evening.
Swedish fans were kept in the stadium until 4 a.m. by Belgian police following the attack.
Worried fans hugged each other during the terrifying experience as Belgian authorities locked all fans inside the stadium for their own safety following the attack.
Romelu Lukaku and his Belgian teammates left the field alone after the suspension
“Belgium is already qualified and we don’t have the opportunity to advance to the European Championship, so I don’t see any reason to play (replay the match),” said the Manchester United defender.
Belgian FA CEO Manu Leroy revealed that news of the attack had leaked before the match, but the Euro 2024 qualifiers were allowed to kick off after consultation with police and security services. security.
“Ten minutes before the match, reports started coming in about what had happened around the stadium,” he said.
“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 communicated that the Swedish players did not want to play in the second half.
“After the first half, the Swedish captain announced that he did not want to start the second half,” Leroy added.
“Then it was important to discuss with the police the best way to evacuate the stadium.
“The decision was taken at the highest level at 11:45 p.m.
“While waiting, we looked at the best way to get people out. The Swedish fans received a police escort, the players left under police escort to the airport to return to their home country.
Sweden head coach Janne Andersson revealed to reporters after the match was suspended that he and his team were determined not to play out of respect for the victims.
“When I came down for the break, I got this information,” he said. “I immediately felt that it was completely unreal. What kind of world do we live in today?
“I walked into the locker room and when the team started talking, we were in 100 percent agreement that we didn’t want to continue playing out of respect for the victims and their families.
Swedish manager Janne Anderson (middle) spoke to the media shortly after the match was stopped.
Emil Holm and his teammates were escorted by police to the airport Monday evening.
Police at the King Baudouin Stadium patrolled the Swedish fans until they could leave safely.
When asked if the match would resume later or if it could be replayed from the start, Leroy replied: “Only time will tell. It’s surreal what happened. The players quickly understood at half-time that the situation was serious, but first they had to have confirmation of the facts.
“As for the Belgian players: everyone was allowed to leave as agreed. Some went home, others to the players’ hotel.
Amid distressing scenes, UEFA issued a statement confirming the cancellation, which occurred at half-time during the clash at the King Baudouin Stadium. Swedish fans were asked to stay on the ground for their own safety.
It read: “Following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels this evening, it has been decided, after consultation with both teams and local police authorities, that the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned. Further communications will be made in due course.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the motive for the attack was that the victims were Swedish.
“Last night three people left for what was supposed to be a wonderful football party. Two of them lost their lives in a brutal terrorist attack,” he said.
A third Swedish fan is also believed to be seriously injured, as the alleged attacker claimed to be an ISIS operative seeking revenge for the murder of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the motive for the attack was that the victims were Swedish.
Local authorities in Brussels consider attack linked to terrorism
A map shows the location of the killings in downtown Brussels and the King Baudouin Stadium in the city’s northwest suburbs – 35,000 supporters were present
Players, fans and match officials observed a minute’s silence before the match Monday evening.
“The attacker specifically targeted Swedish fans who were in Brussels to attend the match against Belgium.
“Two Swedish fans have died. A third person is recovering from serious injuries.
Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said at the press conference that the suspect was a 45-year-old Tunisian who applied for asylum in Belgium in November 2019 and was known to police for people trafficking. and illegal stay in Belgium.
The police are still looking for him.
A video posted online showed a man in a fluorescent jacket claiming a link to Islamic State and saying in Arabic that he had carried out a “revenge attack.”
In it, he boasted of killing “infidels”, while earlier in the day he posted on Facebook a reference to the US killing of a Palestinian boy by the owner of his mother.