Lower Saxony interior minister Boris Pistorius has confirmed no explosives have been found around Hannover’s HDI-Arena despite the cancellation of Tuesday’s international friendly between Germany and Netherlands.
There were reports an ambulance packed with incendiary devices had been discovered but Pistorius insisted that was not the case, although the stadium was evacuated due to a suspicious package being found.
“Contrary to reports, no explosives have been found,” said Pistorius, who also said no arrests had been made in the immediate aftermath of the discovery.
Germany’s minister of domestic affairs Thomas de Maiziere confirmed it was his decision to call the game off less than two hours before kick-off after “many pieces of information indicated a concrete threat”.
And while De Maiziere refused to elaborate on the exact threat posed, other than to say the information came from a “foreign source”, he insisted the right decision had been taken and asked for trust from the German public.
“It was an extremely tough decision to cancel the match which was made after many pieces of info indicated concrete threat,” he said.
“I ask for understanding in cancelling the game. In this situation, the safety of the people is priority.
“There is a high threat for Germany and Europe.
“The information came from a foreign source. Central station is partially closed off as are some public transport stops.”
German Football Association (DFB) interim president Reinhard Rauball admitted it had been a “sad day for German football and a sad day for Germany”.
He added: “The Germany players are on their way back to their club teams and the Dutch are flying home.”
Rauball also confirmed the DFB would be “thinking about” whether games in the Bundesliga would go ahead this weekend.
In announcing the postponement earlier, Hannover chief of police Volker Kluwe told NDR: “There is a concrete situation of danger for all of Hannover. There were serious plans to bring about an explosion.”
The DFB announced on Sunday that the match would go ahead, despite the national team spending Friday night inside the Stade de France in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks.
Ahead of kick-off on Tuesday, reports of a suspicious package inside the stadium prompted fresh security fears and police issued a statement instructing fans already in attendance to leave.
“The friendly match tonight has been cancelled,” police said in an announcement shared across social media and over the public address system inside the ground. “Please leave quietly but quickly to the nearest exit and go home.”
Police later added: “More information about the reasons will be shared with you in due course.”
German chancellor Angela Merkel was due to attend the match.
Jens Grittner, a spokesman for Die Mannschaft, tweeted: “We have been diverted on the way to the stadium and are in a safe place. We cannot say any more at the moment.”
Hannover’s mayor Stefan Schostok told SID: “Security is always first. It is a fear you always have. I trust the police that they made the right decision. If there is a dangerous situation, those steps must be taken.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Robert-Enke Strasse outside the stadium was closed but later re-opened after police confirmed a “suspicious object turned out to be harmless” – allowing fans to approach the venue.
Terrorist attacks across six locations in Paris killed 129 people on Friday night.
Three suicide bombers detonated explosive belts in the vicinity of the Stade de France, killing a further victim, during Germany’s 2-0 loss to France.
French Secretary of State for Sport Thierry Braillard confirmed that bombers targeting the Saint-Denis venue tried to get inside the arena.
Joachim Low’s team did not fly home to Frankfurt until the next morning, having spent the night in the ground, amid safety fears.
At his pre-match news conference, Low backed the original decision to proceed with the match against Netherlands.
“Upon our arrival in Frankfurt, I didn’t think the game against the Netherlands could, or would, go ahead,” he said.
“After sleeping on it, it was clear that the game must go ahead – also in solidarity with our French friends.
“We will think of the victims, the relatives and all of France tomorrow night in Hannover.”
Belgium’s game against Spain in Brussels, also scheduled for Tuesday night, was cancelled due to security fears but France’s match against England will go ahead, with tributes to the victims of the Paris attacks taking place before kick-off.
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