German media reported on November 25 that a specific intelligence warning from Israel led German officials to cancel a soccer game between Germany and the Netherlands on November 17.
According to the Stern news site, the German security officials were informed of serious warnings about a terror threat on November 16, the day before the scheduled game in Hannover, and more specific information was communicated in the course of November 17.
Stern reported that the details were so conclusive that the German authorities saw no other solution than to call off the match, which was canceled only 90 minutes before kickoff.
Members of the German government, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, were in Hannover on the way to go to the game at the time and were planning on sending a signal that Germany would not yield to terrorism in light of the deadly Paris attacks on November 13. A France-Germany soccer game at Paris’s Stade de France was among the targets attacked by ISIS terrorists on November 13 in a multiple terror spree that left 130 people dead. Three suicide bombers killed themselves at the stadium, killing one bystander. The bombers had unsuccessfully attempted to enter the stadium.
Stern said that the Israeli warnings included details of times and targets. According to a second, unconfirmed, German media report that was cited by Israel’s Hebrew language Ynet news site, an explosive device was later discovered in a vehicle disguised as an ambulance outside the stadium.
Announcing that the game had been abandoned, Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told German TV: “We had concrete evidence that someone wanted to set off an explosive device in the stadium.”
Kluwe said, when referring to another bomb threat about an hour before that had turned out to be a false alarm, “After the first object turned out to be harmless, we got a tip that had to be taken seriously that an attack was being planned.”
Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere took responsibility for canceling the match on November 17. He said that signs of a planned attack became stronger as the game grew closer, and the decision was made not long after Merkel and her ministers landed.
De Maiziere said at the time that he could not give a lot of information because he needed to protect the source of information, and because “part of these answers would upset the population.”
Lower Saxony Interior Minister Boris Pistorius, who was speaking at the same late news conference on November 17, said that no explosives had been discovered by then and that no arrests had been made. Pistorius also said that there was no proof of the rumors that an explosive device was put in an ambulance or another vehicle outside the stadium.
One of two caretaker presidents in charge of the German football federation, Reinhard Rauball, said that the German team was about five kilometers away from the stadium when he was called and told to turn the team around.
Rauball also informed two Dutch ministers and the country’s ambassador of the threat and the decision to call off the game.