Bomb threat empties football stadium in Oulu

A bomb threat Wednesday evening caused police to suspend a final match in the Finnish Football Association’s top-tier Ykkönen league and clear the venue of thousands of spectators.Police found no explosives and are continuing investigations.

A match between AC Oulu and Oulun Palloseura OPS was called off on Wednesday evening after a bomb threat was phoned in. The derby was suspended as police cleared thousands of spectators from Oulu’s Raatti stadium in the final minutes of play.

So far, neither the clubs nor city officials have offered any comment on the matter, citing an ongoing police investigation.

"We are still awaiting more information. At the moment the police are responsible for providing updates. After nine (Thursday) they will provide information about the case," said manager of the home team AC Oulu’s stadium, Tapio Salokannel.

The game was shut down after 83 minutes, leaving the teams in a goalless draw. Some 3,500 spectators were evacuated from the stadium and the entire island of Raatti was also cleared and sealed off from the public for several hours.

Baseless threat

"According to police the evacuation went smoothly. The stadium and swimming hall were emptied in less than 10 minutes, due to the efforts of our skilled security officials," Salokannel added.

Police did not locate any explosive devices after sweeping the venue. Officials said that regardless of whether or not the threat was a prank call, it required immediate serious intervention.

"At the moment it seems that the threat was baseless," detective chief Inspector Jussi Hyrkäs of the Oulu police department, who is leading the investigation, said Wednesday.

"At this stage we cannot say what this is about. We can only speculate," he added.

Similar incident in Rovaniemi

In April officials also suspended a game between Rovaniemi Palloseura RoPs and Vaasan Palloseura VPS and evacuated spectators from the Rovaniemi Keskuskenttä because of a bomb threat.

Hyrkäs said that he didn’t want to comment on whether or not the cases were related.

"There are many similarities, however," he ventured.

Because of the rapid evacuation, many sports fans were forced to leave belongings behind. On Thursday AC Oulu announced that members of the public could collect their personal effects if they were able to demonstrate ownership.

"The stadium was cleared up for the night, so personal items were secured. They will then be available for collection from 9.00am."

The facility manager said that in spite of the drama, stadium personnel had remained calm during the incident.

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