As the clock ticked down on Sunday’s faceoff between the Saprissa and Grecia soccer clubs, it seemed like the most memorable aspect of the game would be the score. Saprissa led Grecia by a whopping 6-1 on their home turf, Saprissa Stadium in the northern San José suburb of Tibás.
However, the 80th minute brought a surprise: the premature end of the game and sudden evacuation of the stadium due to a bomb scare that, while apparently groundless, has now led Costa Rican authorities to amp up security for an upcoming World Cup qualifier.
Public Security Ministry spokesman Carlos Hidalgo told Channel 7 TV News that an anonymous caller to stadium officials indicated that there were explosives somewhere in the stadium. A team of 80 police officers and dogs inspected the stadium during and following the evacuation.
“After an hour of review by three teams from the Public Security Ministry’s Canine Unite, as well as officials from the National Police Force and Saprissa Stadium Private Security, the presence of any explosive device has been RULED OUT,” the ministry stated through its Facebook pages following the event.
However, wire service AFP reported that Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata and the Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) announced they will take special measures to ensure safety at Costa Rica’s World Cup qualifying match against Mexico, scheduled for Tuesday at San José’s National Stadium. Officials have already taken control of the National Stadium and are reviewing it “to rule out the possibility of any unscrupulous people introducing articles that threaten the safety of fans.”
Fans at the Saprissa-Grecia game reported an orderly reaction to the unusual event.
“Thank God the people at the stadium reacted very quietly and we were able to get to the emergency exit easily,” Mercedes Céspedes, a reader from Esparza, Puntarenas who attended the game with her family, told The Tico Times.
Another reader, Fabricio Alvarado, said that while the experience was a stressful one, “the evacuation was fast and safe.”