Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Sweden was suspended at half-time and subsequently abandoned following the fatal shooting of two Swedes in Brussels on Monday evening.
Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level after a man, seen in a video on social media, claimed that he was the assailant and that he was from the Islamic State.
“Following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels, 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,” Uefa said in a statement.
Brussels attack: man shot during hunt for suspect in killing of Swedish football fans Read more
Swedish reporters at the game said they had been informed of the attack just before the national anthems were played. Both sets of players told Uefa they did not want to play the second half. The score was level at 1-1. Viktor Gyökeres had given Sweden a 15th-minute lead before Romelu Lukaku equalised.
Sweden’s manager Janne Andersson said: “The team agreed 100% that we didn’t want to play on out of respect for the victims and their families.”
When news of the suspension came the Sweden supporters were asked to remain in the stadium. “Arrangements to safely escort supporters from the match out of the stadium are being examined,” Crisis Centre Belgium said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Supporters will be given more information at the stadium. Please follow the instructions of the emergency services.”
The two victims were reported to have been wearing Sweden shirts when they were shot.
“I feel completely shocked,” Sweden fan Pernilla Califf told the Aftonbladet newspaper. “We don’t understand anything. Everyone is taking off their Swedish shirts and changing into neutral clothes. This is really unpleasant.”
Belgium had already booked a place at the finals in Germany next year, while Austria’s 1-0 win over Azerbaijan earlier on Monday meant Sweden could not qualify.
Following the shooting on the Boulevard d’Ypres, the Belgium prime minister Alexander De Croo confirmed the victims were Swedish.
“My deepest condolences to the relatives of this cowardly attack,” he wrote on social media. “I have just offered my sincere condolences to the 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.”
Uefa added it would be making a “further announcement in due course”.