A suspected bomb that caused the evacuation of 75,000 people at a Manchester United soccer match Sunday turned out to be a fake training device, according to reports.
The “incredibly lifelike explosive device” was found in a bathroom at United’s Old Trafford stadium, canceling the match against Bournemouth just before kickoff. A police bomb squad used controlled detonation to dispose of the device after the evacuation of the crowd.
“Following today’s controlled explosion, we have since found out that the item was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive search dogs,” said Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare in a statement. The training exercise occurred four days earlier, prompting Manchester Mayor Tony Lloyd to label the event a “fiasco.”
The bomb scare comes at a time when security concerns in Europe are at an all-time high, a result of the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March and Paris in November. The state of emergency declared in France after the November attacks is ongoing.
“Whilst this item did not turn out to be a viable explosive, on appearance this device was as real as could be, and the decision to evacuate the stadium was the right thing to do, until we could be sure that people were not at risk,” added O’Hare.
The match was United’s last of the season and was rescheduled for Tuesday. Attendees will not only be refunded for their ticket costs, but will also be given free entry to the rescheduled game. The move could cost United as much as $4 million, a source told the BBC.
Manchester United Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward said the organization will “investigate the incident to inform future actions and decisions.”
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