Dutch team back home after Hanover terror threat

Amsterdam, Nov 18 (IANS) The Netherlands football squad arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport after leaving Hanover where the friendly international against Germany was cancelled due to a terror threat.

The squad was on its way to the stadium when the match, scheduled on Tuesday evening in the HDI-Arena in Hanover, was cancelled for security reasons with German authorities getting signals of a serious terror threat, reports Xinhua.

The Dutch team returned to its hotel immediately and were escorted by the police to the airport, from where it flew back to the Netherlands around midnight on Tuesday. Strikers Bas Dost (VfL Wolfsburg) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04) did not join the Dutch team on their way back. They waited for representatives from their respective German clubs to pick them up from the hotel.

The Dutch football association (KNVB) was shocked by the cancellation of the match. “We wanted to play this match,” the KNVB stated on its website on Wednesday.

“Because the situation was safe until the beginning of the evening. After the German authorities took action due to a serious threat we also took our responsibility.”

“Our people had to be brought in safe haven as quickly as possible and that’s what happened,” KNVB director of professional football Bert van Oostveen said.

“It is very sad that as a result of the Paris attacks and previous terrorist attacks we should be as alert as is the case now.”

Last Friday Germany played France in the Stade de France in Paris, a match which was overshadowed by the terror attacks in Paris.

Despite this experience the German and Dutch coaches Joachim Low and Danny Blind expressed their determination to play Tuesday’s match in Hanover, also to make a statement that soccer will not bend to terror.

Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Edith Schippers and Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis followed the example of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her entire team of ministers to attend the match. The Dutch ministers were already in the stadium, but also had to leave for security reasons.

“After the attacks in Paris this match is more than just a friendly match. We will show that we continue with our free way of life,” Schippers had said before the match, explaining her presence.

“We did not want to bend for terror,” KNVB director Van Oostveen added on Wednesday.

“We wanted to make a statement against terror and for freedom. Unfortunately, that did not work out. We wanted to play, but if the authorities cannot guarantee security we have no other choice.”

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