Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifying clash with Sweden that was abandoned at half time will go down as a 1-1 draw and won’t be replayed, UEFA has confirmed.
Monday night’s match at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels was suspended at the break when news filtered through that two Swedish supporters had been shot dead in a terrorist attack.
Their fans were locked inside the stadium until 4am, while the players were taken to the airport under police escort to return home.
It was initially unclear whether the teams would be forced to play the rest of the game, but UEFA have now confirmed it will go down as a 1-1 draw.
In a statement, UEFA said: ‘With regard to the European Qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden abandoned at half-time upon request and agreement of the two teams, following the terrorist attack that killed two Swedish supporters in Brussels on 16 October.
Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifying clash with Sweden that was abandoned at half time will go down as a 1-1 draw and won’t be replayed, UEFA has confirmed
It was initially unclear whether the teams would be forced to play the rest of the game
Swedish supporters were kept in the stadium until 4am by Belgian police following the attack
Victor Lindelof had called for the qualifier not to be completed when speaking post-game
‘The UEFA Executive Committee decided today that: The match is abandoned and the result at the half-time interval (1-1) is confirmed as final, each team is awarded one point with the Group F standings to be updated accordingly and any suspension is considered served and single yellow cards remain valid.
‘To take the mentioned decision, the Executive Committee took note that it had proved impossible to play the remaining part of the match on the following day.
‘Both the Royal Belgian Football Association and the Swedish Football Association, given the circumstances, explicitly expressed their desire not to play the remaining match time and to consider the result at the half-time interval (1-1) as final.
‘The result of this match does not impact the qualification of Group F since Belgium is already mathematically qualified to the UEFA EURO 2024 final tournament (together with Austria) and Sweden is mathematically eliminated.
‘The respective fixtures do not allow any date to be used in the upcoming November international window, when the preliminary group stage of the competition must be concluded, to be followed by the play-off draw and final tournament draw.’
The score was 1-1 at the time the game was abandoned. Viktor Gyokeres gave Sweden a 15th-minute lead, but Romelu Lukaku had Belgium level just after the half-hour.
Police subsequently shot dead the gunman – a 45-year-old Tunisian national named by Belgian media as Abdesalem L – in a café in the Schaerbeek area of the city on Tuesday morning.
Sweden and Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof had said at the time that there was ‘no reason to finish the match’ given Belgium have already secured their place at Euro 2024 and Sweden cannot make it to the tournament in Germany.
‘Belgium are already qualified and we don’t have the opportunity to get to the European Championship, so I see no reason to play [replay the game],’ Lindelof said.
According to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, the Belgian football association put no pressure on their Swedish counterparts to finish the match – even if it meant they sacrificed a top seeding for Euro 2024.
Manu Leroy, the acting general secretary of the Belgian FA, said: ‘We want to show our respect for what happened. It is important to be big in situation like this and we will be.’
He also said earlier this week that the ‘best solution’ would be to let the match formally end 1-1.
Swedish FA general secretary Hakan Sjostrand added: ‘We will conduct a dialogue with the Belgian FA and UEFA. It [finishing the match] is completely secondary.
‘They have to deal with this, hopefully in a sensible and good way.’
Lindelof took to his Instagram account on Tuesday, posting a picture of the travelling Swedish fans inside the stadium.
He wrote: ‘I’m shocked and devastated by the terrible incidents in Brussels with the cold-hearted attacks on our fellow Swedes.
Concerned supporters embraced each other during the terrifying experience as Belgian authorities locked all fans inside the stadium for their own safety in the aftermath of the attack
Lindelof sent his condolences to the families of the victims in an Instagram post on Tuesday
Sweden manager Janne Andersson spoke to supporters shortly after the game was abandoned
Police at the King Baudouin Stadium patrolled until it was safe for Swedish fans to leave
‘I’m lost for words for the cruelty and inhumanity, I want to send my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those affected.
‘At the same time, my thoughts go out to all the supporters in Belgium last night, no one should ever go to a game of football and feel unsafe when supporting their team.’
The Swedish team headed home after being held back in the stadium until well into the early hours, with Lindelof heading back to his wife Maja and two children in Manchester.
Maja wrote on her Instagram account alongside a picture of her husband: ‘There are no words. My thoughts go out to all those affected yesterday. To the victims and their families. To all Swedish fans. To Sweden.’
She added: ‘And I just want you home now.’
Leroy revealed news of the attack filtered through before the game, but the Euro 2024 qualifier was allowed to kick-off after police and security services were consulted.
The shooting took place on Boulevard d’Ypres, three miles from the stadium, and sparked an overnight manhunt as the terror threat for the city was raised to its maximum level.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the motive behind the attack was that the victims were Swedish.
‘The perpetrator targeted specifically Swedish supporters who were in Brussels to attend the match against Belgium,’ he said.
‘Two Swedish fans have passed away. A third person is recovering from severe injures.’
De Croo added the attack was carried out by someone who wanted to create ‘fear and division in our free society’. However, he warned that ‘terrorists must understand that they will never succeed.
‘Terrorism will never defeat us and we fight this fight together with our Swedish friends.’
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A map shows the location of the killing in Brussels city centre and that of the King Baudouin Stadium in the city’s northwestern suburbs – 35,000 supporters were in attendance
Alexander De Croo said the motive behind the attack was that the victims were Swedish
A third Swedish fan was seriously injured – as the alleged attacker claimed to be a member of ISIS seeking to avenge the killing of a six-year-old US-Palestinian boy
The Belgian prime minister added security in Brussels had been increased and would be strengthened in places connected to Swedish citizens.
A video posted online featured a fluorescent-jacketed man claiming a link to Islamic State saying in Arabic that he had carried out a ‘revenge attack’.
In it, he boasted that he had killed ‘infidels’ while earlier in the day he had posted on Facebook referring to the stabbing in the US of a Palestinian boy.
Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne told the news conference the suspect was a 45-year-old Tunisian man who sought asylum in Belgium in November 2019 and was known to police over people smuggling and illegal residence in Belgium.
Amid distressing scenes on Monday, UEFA had released a statement confirming the cancellation.
It read: ‘Following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels this evening, it has been decided, after consultation with the two teams and the local police authorities, that the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned. Further communication will be made in due course.’