Real Madrid stadium evacuated in ETA bomb threat
Spectators walk accross the pitch as they leave Madrid's Santiago
Bernabeu stadium during the Spanish League soccer match between Real Madrid and
Real Sociedad, Madrid, December 12, 2004. Madrid's Bernabeu stadium was
evacuated minutes before the end of Real Madrid's league match against Real
Sociedad on Sunday and Spanish media said it was due to a bomb threat. The
decision to suspend the match three minutes from time and evacuate the 70,000
crowd was taken after a newspaper received a warning in the name of Basque
separatist group ETA that there was a bomb at the ground, state radio said.
Some 70,000 people were forced to evacuate
Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium minutes before the end of a
league match on Sunday after a bomb threat in the name of ETA Basque
The decision to abandon the game against Real Sociedad three minutes
from time and evacuate the crowd was taken after Basque newspaper Gara
said it received a warning from a caller claiming to represent ETA that
there was a bomb in the ground.
The caller said the bomb would explode at 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) but the
warning proved false. Police with sniffer dogs searched the stadium and
found no bomb.
"The police have said they have completed their search and have not
found anything," Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told reporters.
"The best thing we can all do now is to put this nightmare behind us."
Real Madrid's star-studded team, including Brazil's Ronaldo and
England's David Beckham, suddenly trooped off the pitch with the score
tied at 1-1 against Real Sociedad, a team from San Sebastian in the
An announcement over the public address system told the crowd to leave.
Spectators left the stadium in an orderly way, clearing the ground in
less than 15 minutes. Hundreds streamed across the pitch on their way to
Outside, a few people could be seen in tears due to nerves but emergency
officials said no one had been treated for any injury.
The police ordered the evacuation because their priority was to ensure
the safety of everyone in the ground, the Interior Ministry said in a
Some of the players left the ground in their kit but were later allowed
back to the changing room.
The Spanish football federation will meet on Monday to decide whether to
let the result stand or play the remaining minutes of the game later.
If the result remains at 1-1, Real would drop to fourth in the Primera
Liga, 11 points behind leaders Barcelona.
ETA has targeted the Bernabeu stadium before. In May 2002, an ETA car
bomb exploded nearby hours before a European Champions League semi-final
and 17 people were treated for shock or slight injuries. ETA warned of
that attack in a call to Gara.
This week has seen a resurgence of violence by ETA after months of
relative inactivity. ETA set off bombs in seven cities across Spain on
Monday, slightly wounding five people on Constitution Day, the day
Spaniards celebrate unity.
Three days before that, coordinated ETA bombings at five Madrid service
stations marked the first attack on the capital in two years.
The bombings showed ETA remained capable of high-profile attacks despite
more than 100 arrests this year including the capture of the group's
leader in France two months ago.
ETA, Western Europe's most active armed militant group and listed as
terrorist by the European Union, has killed nearly 850 people since 1968
in a bombing and shooting campaign for Basque independence from Spain