Fake bomb at Man U sparks renewed security fears
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
The discovery of a fake bomb inside Old Trafford brought embarrassment and potentially a $4-million bill to Manchester United, raising serious questions about the security arrangements in place at one of the world's biggest sports teams.
It was also a stark reminder of the vulnerability of sports stadiums ahead of upcoming events like the European Championship in France and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the tense atmosphere that exists among sports fans and authorities after last year's Paris attacks.
United took no chances when a mobile-phone device, taped inside a bathroom cubicle in a corner of Old Trafford, was discovered by a member of staff shortly before the Premier League match against Bournemouth on Sunday. Two stands were evacuated immediately, and soon after the game was called off and the rest of the 75,000-seat stadium was evacuated.
Army bomb-disposal experts blew up the device, described by police as "incredibly lifelike", before police said hours later that it had been left behind by a private company following a security training exercise using search dogs on Wednesday.
"Fiasco is the right word. It was shambolic," Greater Manchester Mayor Tony Lloyd said yesterday. "Of course, United are a huge organisation. It wasn't, I think, the fact they're the world's richest club, it was the fact that the security had missed something that in the end ought to have been found."
Many people who were at the match have praised the way the evacuation by United was handled in unique circumstances. It was the first game in the Premier League's 24-year history that has been cancelled on security grounds.