The Women’s World Cup will proceed despite the deadly shooting in Auckland that left three people dead.
The incident in the central business district occurred hours before the city opened for the tournament, but police in New Zealand said they have contained what they believe was an ‘isolated incident’ and not a threat to national security.
New Zealand, co-hosts with Australia, play the first game of the 2023 tournament in Eden Park, located a few kilometres from the central business district, on Thursday.
But FIFA, having consulted the country’s authorities and teams participating, say the World Cup will continue as planned.
A statement from the governing body read: “FIFA extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the incident which occurred this morning in Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau, Aotearoa New Zealand, and our thoughts and prayers remain with those who have been injured in this tragic incident.
“Immediately following the incident, President Gianni Infantino and FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura were in communication with the Aotearoa New Zealand authorities. FIFA has also been in constant contact with the participating teams affected by this incident.
“FIFA has been informed that this was an isolated incident that was not related to football operations and the opening match tonight at Eden Park will proceed as planned.
“The opening hours of the FIFA Fan Festival in Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau city centre will be confirmed in due course. The participating teams in close proximity to this incident are being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place.”
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said there will be an increased police presence in the city to reassure the public, but said the ‘threat has been neutralised’ and police are not seeking anyone else in relation to the attack.
Norway’s team hotel is roughly 400 metres from where the shooting took place and captain Maren Mjelde said in a statement: “Being informed about the consequences, the Norwegian team’s thoughts are with those affected and their families.
“Everyone probably woke up quite quickly when the helicopter hovered outside our hotel window and a large number of emergency vehicles arrived.
“At first we didn’t know what was going on, but eventually there were updates on TV and the local media. We felt safe the whole time. FIFA has a good security system at the hotel and we have our own security officer in the squad.
“Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game tonight, then we may have to adapt if there are any instructions from the authorities.”
A minute’s silence was observed ahead of the opening match.