Following Tuesday’s attacks at Brussels’ international airport, the Belgian FA were quick to cancel training. With the nation in shock, football was put on the back burner as it was in France during the November attacks on Paris. Yet despite some suggestions it should be cancelled, there was no hint as to what would be done about a friendly against Portugal on Tuesday.
Today, in conjunction with the Portuguese FA, they have announced that the game will go ahead on Tuesday but that it will be played in Leiria, Portugal, instead of in Brussels as originally planned. Leiria, a small city of 130,000 people that lies an hour-and-a-half north of Lisbon, will host the match at the 23,000 seat Estadio Dr. Magalhaes Pessoa, a venue that was constructed for the 2004 Euros.
"Given the dramatic events of yesterday, in these difficult times to allow mass events to take place safely and given the terror level 4 at national level, the game against Portugal will not take place in Brussels next Tuesday," read a statement released today by the Belgian FA. "This was decided in coordination with the authorities and the Portuguese Football Federation."
"The Belgian FA has, in agreement with the national coach and coaching staff, decided to accept the proposal of the Portuguese Football Federation to play this match in Leiria, on the same day and at the same time, Tuesday, March 29 at 20:45 CET. The Belgian FA appreciates the availability, flexibility, and solutions offered by the Portuguese Federation. The FPF expresses its full solidarity with the Belgian FA in this tough and emotional period."
Meanwhile, the national team and Liverpool’s three representatives on it—Simon Mignolet, Divock Origi, and Christian Benteke—were back in training today in Brussels. Due to the raised national terror level and continuing security concerns, the practice was closed to both fans and the media.