BRUSSELS – Belgium called off Tuesday’s friendly match against Spain less than 24 hours before kickoff after the government raised the security alert amid an investigation related to the Paris attacks.
The Belgian football federation said the decision was taken late Monday after the government recommended that the game not be played.
“After consulting with the relevant bodies and the Spanish national team, the URBSFA decided to cancel the match,” the federation said in a statement.
“Right at the end of the evening, the URBSFA was contacted by the government which recommended that the Belgium-Spain match should not go ahead tomorrow night.
“It is in the context of a new elevated terrorist alert and the current pursuit of a suspect.”
France has identified a 27-year-old Belgian as the mastermind of the Paris attacks that killed 129 people on Friday.
The Ministry of the Interior’s Crisis Center had raised the threat alert earlier Monday, recommending the cancellation of the match on its website.
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“We deeply regret that such a friendly match between two motivated teams had to be cancelled so late and we understand the disappointment of numerous fans,” the federation statement added. “However, taking into account these exceptional circumstances, we couldn’t take any risk in the matter of the security of our players and supporters.”
The attacks in Paris started when two explosions set off by suicide bombers went off outside the Stade de France where the French national team was playing Germany.
France is playing England at Wembley Stadium in London on Tuesday after the countries decided to go ahead with that game.