Belgium v Sweden abandoned at half-time after gunman kills two in Brussels

Sweden manager confirms players asked for game to be called off after learning of the attacks

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Belgium's Euro 2024 qualifier against Sweden on Monday was abandoned at half-time after two people were shot dead in Brussels.

Following the shootings on Monday evening, which the authorities are treating as terrorism, with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo later confirming the victims were Swedish, the decision was taken to call off the game at the King Baudouin Stadium.

"Due to the incidents in Brussels earlier tonight, play is suspended. Our thoughts are with all those affected," a post from the Belgian national team read on X, formerly Twitter.

Reports have suggested players from both teams decided during half-time the game should not continue. The score was 1-1 at the time. Viktor Gyokeres gave Sweden a 15th-minute lead, but Romelu Lukaku had Belgium level just after the half-hour.

The Swedish Football Association had announced supporters should stay in the stadium on police advice "for security reasons" and co-operate with the authorities on site.

Fans were kept in the stadium for more than two hours before a message on the stadium screen asked them to leave "calmly".

"Keep calm and take care of each other. Our thoughts go out to all the relatives of those affected in Brussels," a post from the Swedish FA on social media read.

Sweden manager Janne Andersson confirmed the players had asked for the game to be abandoned when they heard about the shooting at half-time.

"I felt it was completely unreal," he told a press conference. "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 agreed 100 per cent that we didn't want to play on out of respect for the victims and their families."

Sweden captain Victor Lindelof, the Manchester United defender, said security put the team "at ease".

"They explained that this is the safest place to be in Brussels," he said. "Belgium are already qualified and we don't have the opportunity to get to the European Championship, so I see no reason to play."

Governing body Uefa confirmed the Group F match had been abandoned following consultation with both teams and local police.

"Following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels this evening, it has been decided, after consultation with the two teams and the local police authorities, that the Uefa Euro 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned," a statement from Uefa read.

"Further communication will be made in due course."

Following the shooting on the Boulevard d'Ypres, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed the victims were Swedish.

"My deepest condolences to the relatives of this cowardly attack in Brussels," he wrote on social media.

"I have just offered my sincere condolences to Swedish PM following tonight's harrowing attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels.

"Our thoughts are with the families and friends who lost their loved ones. As close partners the fight against terrorism is a joint one."

Following the events, Belgium's National Crisis Centre said the terror alert was being raised to its highest level in the capital – the threat very serious and imminent – and increased to serious across the country.

The BNCC confirmed arrangements to safely escort supporters from the King Baudouin Stadium were "being examined" and urged fans to follow the instructions of the emergency services.

Shortly before midnight local time, the BNCC announced the stadium was now being "evacuated" and stressed everyone should "return home immediately".

Updated: October 17, 2023, 12:03 PM