Germany v Holland called off due to terrorist threat

Hannover: Germany v Holland called off due to security threat

Hannover: Germany v Holland called off due to security threat

Germany’s international friendly against Holland was called off at late notice on Tuesday evening after a warning that it would be targeted by terrorists.

The match in Hanover was due to begin at 7.45pm GMT but a security alert saw police step in at around 6pm to prevent it taking place.

Germany were caught up in the attacks on Paris on Friday, with explosions heard outside the Stade de France during their friendly against France as suicide bombers detonated devices.

Attacks in the French capital, claimed by Islamic State jihadists, have so far claimed at least 129 lives.

Germany’s federal minister of the interior, Thomas de Maiziere, did not detail the threat in Hanover, 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.”

German broadcaster NDR had earlier quoted Hanover police chief Volker Kluwe as saying: “We have had concrete evidence that someone wanted to ignite an explosive device at the stadium.”

Dutch newspaper Telegraaf said one suspicious package was found that was later shown to be harmless, while a senior regional official said there was nothing sinister found in searches in and around the Niedersachsenstadion.

The German football federation (DFB) announced in a short Twitter statement shortly after 7pm GMT: “The team are in a safe place. The match will not go ahead.”

The Minister of the Interior for the state of Lower Saxony, Boris Pistorius, said: “No explosives have been found and no arrests have been made.”

Over 40,000 supporters were expected at the match, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Pistorius said no risks could be taken in view of the events in Paris.

“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.”

Acting DFB president Reinhard Rauball said: “It’s a sad day for Germany and a sad day for German football.

“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.”

Earlier on Tuesday, arrests were made in Aachen in relation to the Paris attacks.

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