• Bomb threat will impact German FA

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    HANOVER, Germany: A bomb threat which forced Germany’s friendly against the Netherlands to be cancelled on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) will have an impact on security at Bundesliga grounds, says German FA president Reinhard Rauball.

    “My impression is that football in Germany has taken a different turn in many facets,” said Rauball. “This is a sad day for German football.”

    Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, took the decision to call off the international friendly, based on a “concrete threat”, two hours before kick-off in Hanover.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel was rushed back to Berlin, and thousands of fans had to be evacuated from the stadium.

    Both the German and Dutch team buses were turned back, as they were five minutes from the stadium when the game was called off.

    Despite a thorough search, no explosives were found at the HDI Arena.

    The German team had already been shaken after spending last Friday night in the Stade de France as their international friendly took place during scenes of violence across Paris.

    “The fact that our team has had to experience such tragic events within four days is beyond my imagination,” said Rauball in a hastily arranged press conference in Hanover.

    Bert van Oostveen, director of the Dutch FA, said: “It is very sad for our society, after… Paris and previous terrorist attacks, to need to be so alarmed as they were today.

    “Our players and our team need to process the events of this evening.”

    Full of sorrow
    Van Oostveen also told Dutch media: “We are sad and full of sorrow . . . We wanted to make a gesture.

    “We wanted to play football despite what has happened in Paris… But when the authorities can no longer guarantee safety, then you have to call a halt. Then you no longer have a choice.”

    Rauball said that in the wake of last Friday’s jihadist attacks, which claimed at least 129 lives, the Hanover bomb threat will have repercussions at top-flight grounds across Germany.

    Security is set to be a key factor at football grounds around the country with a full programme of nine matches set to take place over this weekend.

    In Gelsenkirchen on Saturday, Schalke will host star-studded German league leaders Bayern Munich at their 78,996 capacity stadium.

    But de Maiziere said Germany is not prepared to live in fear of a terrorist threat.

    “We want to go to the stadium, visit Christmas markets and attend public celebrations and that is what we will still do.”

    Rauball said the German team were rushed back to their team hotel under police escort once the game was called off.

    The team was dispersed with Bayern players being flown directly to Munich, while the rest of the squad who lived closer by were bused home with friends and family.

    “I rang [Germany team manager] Oliver Bierhoff on the team bus as soon as the decision was taken to call the game off,” added Rauball.

    “The bus was five kilometers from the stadium.

    “I have a lot of respect for the decision, I know how hard it was to make and protecting people has to take the highest priority.”

    AFP

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