Evidence of explosive attack cancels Netherlands-Germany football friendly

Germany Netherlands Hannover evacuation
Police in Germany quickly clear the Hannover football stadium following reports of a suspicious package. Nov. 17, 2015 (photo: Ahmadtal3t / Twitter). (Police in Germany quickly clear the Hannover football stadium following reports of a suspicious package. Nov. 17, 2015 (photo: Ahmadtal3t / Twitter))

Reports of a suspicious package at the football stadium where Germany was to host the Netherlands Tuesday evening led to the football match’s cancellation. "We have had concrete evidence that someone wanted to detonate an explosive device at the stadium," Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told German newswire Deutschen Presse-Agentur.

Police in Hannover ordered the evacuation of the stadium a little over an hour before the match was set to kick off at 8:45 p.m. Police also spoke of a "concrete, dangerous threat to the entire city of Hannover," broadcaster NOS reported.

"The game has been cancelled. Please go straight home but stay calm," German police said at the stadium. Trains heading away from the stadium were stopped and fans were told to find their way out of the area on foot, Ireland's Independent reported.

The TUI Arena in Hannover was also evacuated, DPA wrote. The Söhne Mannheims were set to perform Tuesday night in the 14,000-person venue.

The Dutch men's national team had not yet arrived at the stadium when its evacuation was ordered. It had left the hotel, but turned around upon news of the alert, newspaper AD reported. The German football team also were safely away from the area, according to its official Twitter account.

German chancellor Angela Merkel was to attend the match along with the Dutch Minister of Health and Sport, Edith Schippers. Merkel extended the invitation to top Dutch officials to demonstrate the continuing way of life in Western Europe despite terrorist attacks in Paris, France last week.

One of the principal targets in the violence on Friday was the Stade de France arena where Francois Hollande was attending a football friendly between France and Germany. Joachim Low, the coach of Germany's football squad, called the match with the Netherlands an important display of "freedom and democracy."

Schippers was to represent the Dutch government in place of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who was in South Africa on a trade mission Tuesday. His trip included the largest-ever Dutch delegation to an African nation, but was cut from a two-day visit down to one day in light of the Paris attacks.