Fears of a terrorist bombing forced World Champions Germany to cancel a highly-anticipated soccer friendly against the Netherlands on Tuesday. The game, in the city of Hannover, was called off two hours before it was supposed to start. Ironically, the match was being used by officials as a gesture of defiance against terrorism, a few days after the Paris Attacks.
Barely 20 minutes after fans packed the 49,000-capacity stadium, authorities ordered an evacuation. “Please immediately make your way home,” the police said over loudspeakers. “There is no reason for you to stay here any longer.”
Wall Street Journal reports that heavily armed police moved through the area of the stadium, searching for vehicles and pleading people to depart in a hurry. “We had concrete evidence that someone wanted to set off an explosive device in the stadium,” Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told a German TV station.
Thomas de Maizière, Federal Minister of the Interior, revealed that German intelligence officials had come across overwhelming chatter about possible attacks to the game. “In such a difficult situation that is in doubt, the protection of humanity is the priority,” said Maizière.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, took a detour back to Berlin after hearing of the bomb threat. Merkel and other government officials were scheduled to attend the game.
The German soccer team was still reeling from the now infamous incidents in Paris a few nights before. Germany was playing France in a friendly at Stade de France, outside of which three suicide bombers blew themselves up. “That our team would twice in four days have to experience this kind of tragic event is something that previously I could never have imagined,” German soccer official Reinhard Rauball said. “This is, of course, a sad day for Germany and a sad day for German soccer.”
Meanwhile, in England, the France-England friendly at London’s Wembley Stadium got underway without any hiccups.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 17, 2015