BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 16: The LED screen inside the stadium displays the score at half time as the the UEFA EURO 2024 European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned at King Baudouin Stadium on October 16, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.

Introduction

The Euro 2024 Qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden was abandoned midway through a shooting incident in Brussels, Belgium. The match was being played at the King Baudouin Stadium on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, when the shooting occurred.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 16: Fans of Sweden react at half time as the the UEFA EURO 2024 European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned at King Baudouin Stadium on October 16, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, OCTOBER 16: Fans of Sweden react at halftime as the UEFA EURO 2024 European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned at King Baudouin Stadium on October 16, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.

The Shooting Incident

The shooting incident occurred at around 16:00 local time, just before the start of the second half of the match. According to reports, two gunmen opened fire on a crowd of people outside the stadium. Several people were injured in the shooting, and one person was killed.

  • The shootings occurred on the Boulevard D’Ypres, which is about 5 kilometers away from the King Baudouin stadium, around 7:00 pm local time, just 45 minutes before the match was scheduled to begin.
  • It is unclear whether the victims were in Brussels to attend the match, although it has been reported that they were wearing Sweden football jerseys.
  • The Swedish players were informed about the incident during halftime, when the score was tied at 1-1.
  • After consulting with the Belgian team, they decided not to continue playing.
  • “When I came down for the break, I received this information. Immediately, I couldn’t believe it. What kind of world do we live in today?” said Sweden Coach Janne Andersson.
  • “I went into the locker room, and when the team started discussing it, we all agreed that we didn’t want to continue playing out of respect for the victims and their families.”
  • Players and fans were advised to stay in the stadium for their own safety.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, OCTOBER 16: The LED screen inside the stadium displays the score at halftime as the UEFA EURO 2024 European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned at King Baudouin Stadium on October 16, 2023, in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

The Match Abandoned

The match was abandoned shortly after the shooting incident. The players and referees were taken off the pitch, and the stadium was evacuated. The Belgian Football Association (RBFA) later announced that the match would not be resumed.

Reaction:

“Our security team reassured us and explained that being in Brussels is the safest place,” said Sweden captain Victor Lindelof.

“Arrangements to safely escort supporters from the Belgium-Sweden match out of the stadium are being examined,” Crisis Center Belgium informed supporters via social media.

“Belgium sends its sincere condolences to the people of Sweden,” a message from Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Kroo said. 

Peaceful societies are shaken by this act of terrorism. Our solidarity remains steadfast against this senseless animosity. We will confront terrorism with even stronger resolve in unison.

“Our thoughts are with the relatives of those affected in Brussels,” a message on social media from the Swedish Football Association said.

“Belgium is already qualified, and we cannot qualify for the European Championship, so I don’t see any reason to play,” Lindelof said.

The RBFA and the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) have both condemned the shooting incident. The RBFA has also expressed its condolences to the families of the victims.

Conclusion

The abandonment of the Belgium vs. Sweden Euro 2024 Qualifier match is a tragic reminder of the dangers of terrorism. It is important to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

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