Brussels in lockdown as terror attacks put Belgium vs Portugal match in doubt

By Samindra Kunti

March 22 – Next week’s friendly international Belgium – Portugal at Brussels’s King Baudouin Stadium may be cancelled after the Belgian capital was hit by terrorist attacks. 

Several explosions struck Brussels airport and the metro system, causing casualties. Shortly after 08:00 CET two blasts tore through the departures area of Zaventem airport. Maalbeek metro station, close to the EU institutions, was hit an hour later.

The airport attack has been confirmed to be a suicide attack by local authorities.

Twenty-three have reportedly died in the separate attacks.

The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.

The Belgian capital has gone in lockdown.

After the attacks the Belgian FA, the KBVB, announced that today’s afternoon training session of the Belgian national team has been cancelled. The players and staff members had all arrived yesterday at the team hotel.

Today’s training session was cancelled because “football is not important today” according to a KBVB-tweet.

“I can’t believe that I have to read this again,” tweeted Tottenham player Jan Verthonghen.

“My thoughts and prayers are going to the victims,” added Celtic player Dedryck Boyata on Twitter.

The KBVB will convene with security services and local authorities to assess if the other training sessions can be held as planned later this week.

Belgium, who are top of the FIFA ranking, are scheduled to play Portugal next week in Brussels, but the visit of Cristiano Ronaldo and his colleagues may now be in doubt. The KBVB will reassess the viability of hosting the game given the circumstances.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks in November the prestigious friendly match Belgium – Spain was called off at the Heysel Stadium. The world’s number 1 ranked team was set to host the reigning European champions, but due to the heightened security threat Belgium’s Ministry of the Interior’s Crisis Centre ordered the match to be cancelled.

On March 29 a sell-out crowd of 45,000 is expected at Belgium’s national stadium, which is located to the north of the city center. Fans always travel in large numbers on public transport, and in particular via the metro, to the King Baudouin Stadium.

Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level.

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