Belgium-Sweden Euro 2024 qualifier abandoned after two Swedes shot dead

Swedish fans
Swedish fans inside the stadium as play is suspended in Brussels. Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman

Brussels: The Euro 2024 qualifier between Belgium and Sweden was suspended at half-time and subsequently abandoned following the fatal shooting of two Swedes in Brussels earlier on Monday, UEFA said.

Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level as a man in a video on social media claimed that he was the assailant and that he was from Islamic State.

"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," UEFA said in a statement on its website.

Swedish reporters at the game said they had been informed of the attack just before the national anthems were played. Sweden's players told UEFA they did not want to play the second half and the Belgians agreed, Swedish broadcaster TV6 said.

The score was level at 1-1 when news of the suspension came and Sweden's fans were asked to remain in the stadium.

"Arrangements to safely escort supporters from the Belgium-Sweden match out of the stadium are being examined," Crisis Centre Belgium said in a post on social media platform X.

"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, according to Swedish media.

"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"

Sweden coach Janne Andersson told a press conference that they had asked not to carry on with the match.

"When I came down for the break, I got this information. Immediately, I felt that it was completely unreal. What kind of world do we live in today?" he told reporters.

"I came into the locker room and when the team started talking we agreed 100 percent that we didn't want to play on out of respect for the victims and their families."

Sweden captain Victor Lindelof told the press conference that the players never felt in any danger.

"Our security team handled it well and put us at ease. They explained that this is the safest place to be in Brussels," he said.

Belgium had already booked a place at the finals in Germany next year, while Austria's 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan earlier on Monday meant Sweden could not qualify for Euro 2024.

"Belgium are already qualified and we don't have the opportunity to get to the European Championship, so I see no reason to play," Lindelof added.

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