November 17, 2015 / 1:01 AM / in 2 years

Belgium vs. Spain friendly called off over security fears

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A soccer friendly between Belgium and Spain scheduled for Brussels on Tuesday has been postponed for security reasons after the Paris attacks, the Belgian soccer federation (URBSFA) said.

Belgian special forces police climb high on an apartment block during a raid, in search of suspects linked to the deadly attacks in Paris, in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, November 16. 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

“The URBSFA was contacted by the government this evening and advised not to organize the Belgium-Spain match tomorrow evening,” it said in a statement late on Monday.

The statement, in French, said the game between the European heavyweights had been canceled though a tweet from the URBSFA official English account said it had been only postponed.

More information would be made available to ticket holders later this week, the statement added.

The federation explained the advice was due to the current state of high alert and a Belgian-based French suspect from Friday’s attacks being on the run.

“We deeply regret that such a friendly match between two motivated teams is canceled so late and we understand the disappointment of many supporters,” the federation said.

“Taking into account the exceptional circumstances, we cannot however take any security risk for our players and fans.”

The match had been thrown into doubt following Friday’s attacks in Paris, particularly after investigators identified a Belgian national as the possible mastermind, with Brussels seen as the springboard.

“We have no idea why the game was called off but we can imagine,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque told reporters.

“We wanted to play the match, our final one of the year,” he added in an impromptu news conference on the team aircraft on Tuesday.

“It wasn’t to be and the best thing is to get back to Madrid as quickly as possible and that the players rejoin their clubs.”

France were playing Germany in Paris last Friday as a wave of attacks hit the city, killing at least 129 people.

The friendly match at the Stade de France was targeted by some of the attackers though they did not get into the stadium.

The French side will play England in London on Tuesday.

Major sporting events throughout France were suspended at the weekend.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Greg Stutchbury and Justin Palmer

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