Sunday 11 December 2016

Decision to evacuate stadium ahead of Germany friendly 'not taken lightly'

No arrests made and no explosives found after stadium was evacuated

Published 17/11/2015 | 18:38

Heavy armed Police outside the stadium before the match was cancelled. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Heavy armed Police outside the stadium before the match was cancelled. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Supporters leave the stadium after the match was called off by police due to security reason. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Supporters leave the stadium after the match was called off by police. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Heavy armed Police outside the stadium after match was called off. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police outside the stadium ask supporters to leave after match was called off. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police outside the stadium after match was called off. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police road block after suspect item outside the stadium before the match. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police road block after suspect item outside the stadium before the match. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police road block after suspect item outside the stadium before the match. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police officers inspect suspect item outside the stadium before the match. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police officers inspect suspect item outside the stadium before the match. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen
Football Soccer - Germany vs Netherlands - International Friendly - HDI Arena, Hanover, Germany - 17/11/15. Police officers inspect suspect item outside the stadium before the match. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen

A friendly between Germany and Holland in Hannover was cancelled and the stadium was being evacuated after a security threat.

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The decision to evacuate was made after a suspicious suitcase was found outside the HDI-Arena in Hannover. Pictured below:

2015-11-1_7135.jpg  

Fans were initially granted access to the stadium but were later evacuated and the game was called off.

A stadium public address announcer at the venue said: "I'm sorry but the match has been just called off."

The announcer said there was "no danger".

At around 18.20 GMT the announcement confirmed that the game had been in fact cancelled.

A German police statement said: "The game has been cancelled. Please go straight home but stay calm".

The German football federation (DFB) announced in a short Twitter statement: "The team are in a safe place. The match will not go ahead."

Its spokesman Jens Grittner wrote on Twitter: "We were on our way into the stadium and were diverted by the police to a safe place. We cannot say more at this time. Please understand."

Hanover’s chief of police, Volker Kluwe, told German news agency DPA: “We have received concrete information that someone was planning to set off explosives inside the stadium.” Police spokesman Joerg Hoffmeister told The Associated Press that everyone inside had to be evacuated after the as-yet unidentified object was found.

However, the Lower-Saxony interior minister Boris Pistorius later said that no arrests have been made until and no explosives found, and that "contrary to reports no explosives have been found".

The Minister of the Interior for the state of Lower Saxony, Boris Pistorius, said the decision to call off the game was not taken lightly.

Over 40,000 supporters were expected, but Pistorius said no risks could be taken in view of the events in Paris on Friday, and faced with a specific threat of an explosive attack.

"It is very regrettable that this game had to be called off," Pistorius said. "We all wanted to send out a signal, which makes this decision so bitter.

"After the indications we received, we knew we could not stage this game. There was no way for us to misinterpret the signs.

"We will have greater police ranks out all night to show that we are there and that we are ensuring and can ensure people's safety."

Both the Germany and Holland teams swiftly left the stadium, according to acting DFB president Reinhard Rauball.

"It's a sad day for Germany and a sad day for German football," Rauball said. "It's a shame for many football fans who were looking forward to a great game, a game which was to be played under different conditions to usual football games - in the spirit of respect, and as a sign against violence and terrorism.

"For our team, within just four days, to have to go through such a tragic situation twice is not something I could have imagined.

"Thanks again to the security forces. I have great respect for the decision and know how hard it was to take it, but the safety of people is paramount.

"The team was five kilometres away from the stadium at the time and turned around and went to a secure place, as did the Dutch team.

"In the meantime, the German team have returned to the hotel. The players from Munich have already flown home, the other players have left with their private cars.

"The Dutch are on their way to the airport and have been ensured a slot to be able to depart as soon as possible."

Earlier on Tuesday, arrests were made in Aachen in relation to Friday's attacks in Paris amid an elevated state of alert throughout Europe.

De Maiziere would not detail the threat, asking only to be trusted that the decision to call off the game was a necessary one.

He said in a televised press conference: "We were all looking forward to the game, which was a special gesture of football and this makes it all the more bitter to have to take this decision, which was particularly hard to take, but in the slightest doubt, our priority was to protect people.

"I can understand all the questions relating to what was the background? What could have happened? Why we had to call the game off? What made the decision so clear? I can understand these questions, but please understand that I would not like to give an answer.

"Why? Because some of the answers would unsettle people, and it could make things difficult for us in future in making such decisions, be it in Hanover or elsewhere.

"I would just like to ask the German public to trust us, the Interior Ministry, that we had good reasons to make this decision, but it does not help for us to provide any further details."

Trains heading away from the stadium were stopped and fans have been told to make their way by foot.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and a number of cabinet ministers were due to attend the game.

Former Holland player Ruud Gullit wrote on Twitter: "I am now on the stadium of #hannover for the game #germany-#holland. They just suspended the game and are going to inform us why."

In addition to the football stadium, a concert venue in Hannover is also being evacuated.

A band, The Söhne Mannheims, were meant to be playing at the TUI-Arena tonight.

The world champions had initially not wanted the game to go ahead after having played against France in Paris on Friday as the wave of attacks hit the city killing 129 people.

The contingent of 80 Germans, including players, coaches and staff, then spent the night holed up in the changing rooms of the Stade de France stadium as the attacks took place across the capital, before leaving straight for the airport on Saturday morning.

But the players, coaches as well as the national football association then decided to go ahead with the game in a show of unity with the French.

Belgium's friendly against Spain, which was also due to be played on Tuesday, was cancelled on Monday night due to an increased terrorism threat.

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