Belgium-Sweden Soccer Match Suspended After Deadly Shooting Near Stadium

A soccer match in Brussels between Belgium and Sweden has been suspended following a nearby shooting, which, authorities said, had “possible terrorist motivation.”

Belgian authorities said two Swedes were shot and killed Monday near King Baudouin Stadium, where Belgium and Sweden had been playing a Euro 2024 qualifying match. The game was suspended at halftime due to the shooting about three miles from the stadium. Authorities told the Associated Press (AP) that their top priority was getting fans out of the stadium safely.

Over two hours after the game was suspended, a message flashed on the big stadium screen saying, “Fans, you can leave the stadium calmly.”

At the time of publication, authorities continued to look for the shooter.

“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,” UEFA said in a release. “Further communication will be made in due course.”

Soccer match abandoned in Belgium
Fans of Sweden on Monday react at halftime as the UEFA EURO 2024 European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium. The match was suspended after a nearby deadly shooting.
Getty Images

Video is circulating on social media from a man claiming to have perpetrated the attack.

“During the evening, a claim of responsibility was posted on social media, having been recorded by a person claiming to be the assailant. This person claims to be inspired by Islamic State,” Eric Van Duyse, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office told reporters. “The Swedish nationality of the victims was put forward as the probable motive for the act. At this time, no element indicates a possible link with the Israeli-Palestinian situation.”

Van Duyse did not elaborate regarding the location of the suspect or possible accomplices. He said the suspect was still at large.

Authorities have raised the terror alert status in Brussels to its highest level and to the second-highest level nationwide.

“The population needs to be actively vigilant and avoid any unnecessary travel,” anti-terror center spokeswoman Laura Demullier told AP.

Sweden had also previously raised its terror alert to the second-highest level following threats from Islamic militant groups over public Quran-burnings by an Iraqi refugee living in Sweden.

The shootings come at a time of heightened tension in several European nations due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. AP also noted that the Belgian capital has seen increased violence recently, linked to increasing international drug trafficking.

On October 7, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza. As of Saturday, at least 1,300 people had been killed in Israel, the Associated Press reported, citing the Israeli military. At least 1,800 had been killed in Gaza, according to authorities there, the AP said.