By Alex Stevens
The Premier League contingents of Belgium and Spain will return to England 24 hours early after the late cancellation of their friendly due to security fears.
The high-profile match was scheduled to be played in Brussels on Tuesday night but a decision was made late on Monday to call the game off on the advice of the government.
The fixture had been thrown into doubt following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, particularly after investigators identified a Belgian national as the possible mastermind, with Brussels seen as the springboard and with arrests made in Belgium.
England-based stars who were in the Belgium and Spain squads will now return to their clubs a day early to prepare for the return of the Premier League on Saturday.
This includes the likes of Chelsea quartet Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Cesar Azpilicueta and Diego Costa, Manchester City duo Vincent Kompany and Kevin de Bruyne, Liverpool’s Christian Benteke, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, Tottenham trio Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele, and Manchester United duo Juan Mata and Marianne Fellaini.
A statement on the Belgian Football Association website gave more detail about the cancellation of the match.
“In consultation with the competent authorities and the Spanish national team, the Belgian FA has decided to cancel the match,” it read. “At the very end of the evening the Belgian FA was contacted by the government, who made the recommendation not to play tomorrow’s match. This is because the terror alert level is high and with the current leakage of a suspicious person.
“We deeply regret that such a friendly match between two motivated teams has been cancelled so late and we understand the disappointment of many supporters.
“However, taking into account the exceptional circumstances, we cannot take any security risk with players and fans.
“Ticket holders will get more information about tickets in the course of this week.”
The Stade de France was targeted as part of Friday’s Paris attacks, with three people killed outside the ground as the home side played an international against Germany.
However, France’s match against England at Wembley on Tuesday will go ahead.