Germany and the Netherlands were supposed to play a soccer match in Hannover on Tuesday, but it was called off about 90 minutes before kickoff after police found a suspicious object inside the stadium, which was evacuated.
What exactly composed the suspicious object, however, is being debated. German media is reporting that police received “concrete” information about a bomb threat and that the Hannover police confirmed an explosive device on the premises.
In a press conference held later, however, German officials denied any explosive device had been found, according to The Washington Post’s Charles Lane.
German officials also denied various reports purporting that a truck bomb disguised as an ambulance was found near the stadium.
Hannover police informed fans that the game had been canceled on its Facebook page.
“Dear followers, the game has just been cancelled. Please go home swiftly but without panic,” the post said.
At the stadium, police asked that people evacuate by foot, as all trains moving away from the stadium were stopped. Only a few spectators were inside the stadium when the evacuation was announced.
Agence France-Presse says police called off the game at 49,000-seat HDI Arena because of “security reasons,” without elaborating on the specifics. Events in other parts of Hannover also were affected:
“Were redirected by police on out way to the stadium and are in a safe place. Please understand that we can’t say anymore at this point,” Jens Grittner, spokesman for the German national team, said in a tweet.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected to attend the game, according to reports, “as a signal that Germany wouldn’t bow to terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks,” the AP reports.
On Friday, a match between Germany and France in Paris was the site of numerous explosions in a terror attack that killed at least 129 people throughout the city. One of the attackers reportedly attempted to enter the stadium with a ticket after the game had begun but was turned away. He then detonated his explosive vest.
In addition to the game in Germany, France and England are scheduled to play a friendly at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. However, Tuesday’s scheduled match between host Belgium and Spain was cancelled on Monday amid security concerns, and many fans were worried that it might mean the disruption of Euro 2016 next year. Tournament organizers said earlier in the day (before the Hanover evacuation) that the event would go on, however.
We will update this post as news comes in.