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Belgium vs. Sweden: Tragic Shooting Halts Euro 2024 Qualifier

Belgium vs. Sweden: Tragic Shooting Halts Euro 2024 Qualifier

Belgium vs. Sweden: Tragic Shooting Halts Euro 2024 Qualifier
Mattias Svanberg of Sweden in action during the Group F - UEFA EURO 2024 European Qualifiers match between Belgium and Sweden at King Baudouin Stadium on October 16, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.(Image-Getty) 

The Euro 2024 qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden was abruptly halted at halftime and subsequently abandoned after the tragic and fatal shooting of two Swedish individuals in Brussels earlier on Monday, as confirmed by UEFA. The alarming incident prompted Belgium to escalate its terror alert to the highest level, with a video circulating on social media claiming affiliation with Islamic State.

In an official statement on their website, UEFA announced the abandonment of the match following consultation with both teams and local law enforcement agencies due to the suspected terrorist attack. Swedish reporters present at the game revealed that news of the attack emerged just before the national anthems were played. Swedish players expressed their reluctance to continue the game, a sentiment which was shared and respected by the Belgian team, according to reports from Swedish broadcaster TV6.

At the time of suspension, the match was tied at 1-1, with instructions given to Swedish fans to remain within the stadium premises as authorities worked on ensuring their safe exit. The Crisis Centre Belgium reassured supporters through social media that arrangements were being made to facilitate their departure safely.

Media accounts stated that the victims were wearing Sweden shirts during the shooting. Disconcerted fans were observed removing their Swedish attire and opting for neutral clothing. Sweden's coach, Janne Andersson, expressed disbelief at the situation, highlighting the team's unanimous decision not to resume the match out of respect for the victims and their families.

Reassuring the public, Sweden captain Victor Lindelof emphasized that the players never felt endangered, crediting the swift response of their security team. Despite the initial shock, Lindelof reiterated the stance of not seeing any reason to continue the game, especially considering that Belgium had already secured a spot in the finals and Sweden's chances for Euro 2024 qualification had already diminished following Austria's draw with Azerbaijan earlier that day.

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