Sweden’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Belgium was abruptly abandoned following the tragic news of two Swedish fans being shot dead in Brussels prior to the match, prompting their captain, Victor Lindelof, to make the call themselves. This heart-wrenching incident brought home how soccer is not simply a game between teams; its human side raises serious considerations beyond playing fields.
At King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, a fatal attack against Swedish supporters took place just prior to kick-off time (at 8.45 pm local time). Players only became aware of it during halftime. Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof took it upon himself to assess player reaction before approaching Belgian players to explain the dire situation.
Lindelof reported, “I tried to talk with all the players individually about how they felt. After discussing it with Belgian players, we all expressed that we no longer wanted to continue, which they completely understood. Our decision to discontinue was unanimously driven by compassion for victims and grieving families.”
After a brief delay, the match was officially abandoned; however, fans were assured of their safety within the stadium premises for now and allowed to exit after several hours. Lindelof explained further: “Players who had family and friends here wanted to make contact with them to ensure their wellbeing; people were worried; but our security team handled it incredibly well.”
Janne Andersson, coach of the Swedish national team, expressed his shock and sorrow over what had transpired: “When we received this information at halftime in our dressing room at halftime, I immediately felt shocked – how is this even happening today? When discussing it among ourselves we all agreed unanimously not to play, out of respect for both victims’ families as well as ourselves.”
Lindelof and Andersson seemed disinclined to consider postponing or postponing their game given its gravity, especially given what happened next. Andersson stated that postponing would “not matter; even if something had rested on this game… we don’t feel we should be playing football when these kinds of things are going on in our world”. Lindelof concurred: “I agree with Janne; there’s no sense finishing this game.”
Responding to this sudden turn of events, UEFA issued a statement late Monday evening officially announcing the abandonment of the match and promising “further communication will be provided in due course.” This incident serves as a somber reminder of real world issues that can threaten sports events while sparking consideration regarding the role and priorities of footballing communities when tragedy strikes.