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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

‘We were very clear’: Man Utd’s Victor Lindelof speaks out as Sweden abandon friendly with Belgium amid shooting

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Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof played 45 minutes of an international match which was abandoned tonight.

BBC Sport report two Sweden fans have been shot by a gunman, with Belgian police treating it as terror attack.

Belgium were hosting Sweden for a Euro 2024 qualifier.

The incident took place five miles away from the stadium, and the gunman was still on the loose when the game began.

Belgium v Sweden: Group F - UEFA EURO 2024 European Qualifiers

Photo by Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Sweden players abandon game

It seems crazy to us that the game was even able to kick-off in such dangerous circumstances.

The first half was played in full, finishing 1-1, with Viktor Gyokeres scoring for Sweden and Romelu Lukaku netting an equalising penalty for Belgium.

The teams did not return for the second half.

According to Swedish outlet Fotboll Skanalen, this was a decision influenced by the team: “The Swedish players decided not to continue playing.”


Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof was the captain of the Sweden team on the night. He played a key part in influencing this sensible decision.

Sweden manager Janne Anderson said: “We can’t play football when it’s like this. We and Belgium completely agreed that we will not play.

“I found out about it (the act) during the break on the way down and the decision from all players and leaders is of course that we cannot play the match. It (the shooting) is completely disgusting.”

Explaining the decision why the game went ahead in the first place, SvFF’s head of security Martin Fredman said: “Belgian police were very clear that they wanted the match to continue to be played, as they judged the arena to be the safest place for Swedish citizens. That’s why the match was played until half-time.”

But as the severity of the situation became clear, Lindelof and the Sweden players made clear they were not prepared to continue.

Victor Lindelof spoke to Fotbol Skanalen at a press conference. He explained how the decision materialised.

Lindelof said: “I talked to the other players in the team about how they felt, and then I felt that I wanted to talk to the Belgian players.

“I explained how we looked at the situation. We were very clear that we did not want to continue playing and the Belgian players were completely on board with that.

“There are players who have family and friends there, and we wanted to take care of our supporters. 

“Those who had family or friends here wanted to try to get in touch with those people directly so that they were well. People got worried but our security team explained it very well. We are safe here.”

He added, regarding the deaths of two Sweden supporters: “It’s terrible. I don’t really know what to say about that. Our supporters mean a lot to us and we want them to be well and safe.”

What happens next

The absolute priority is for all fans at the stadium to get home safe. This is the focus of the authorities, and a manhunt is underway for the shooter.

The match was irrelevant. Belgium’s place at Euro 2024 is already secure. Sweden can no longer qualify.

Lindelof himself commented: “There is probably no point in finishing the match.”

He is right. But if UEFA insist, that’s a conversation for another day.

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