Bomb Threat Clears 70000 Out of Stadium in Midst of Real Madrid v. Real Sociedad Match

MADRID Spain (Associated Press) - Real Madrid and Real Sociedad will complete their suspended game on Jan. 5 Spain's football federation said Monday.

The match was stopped Sunday when a bomb threat emptied Santiago Bernabeu stadium with three minutes to play and the scored tied 1-1.

About 70000 fans and players cleared the stadium some players leaving in uniform. No bomb was found. The incident raised questions about how to protect crowds at sports events in Spain and elsewhere.

It was the first time a major Spanish sports event has been halted due to a bomb threat.

"Now we can say it was just a scare and we hope it won't happen again Real Madrid President Florentino Perez said on the team's Web site Monday.

He told the sports daily As: "What happened is a very bad precedent. ... It's scary that this sort of thing might become a trend."

The match will resume at Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT). The teams will play the reaminder of regulation plus four minutes of injury time.

Real Madrid said it will go ahead with Tuesday night's scheduled charity match at the Bernabeu stadium between teams led by Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.

The Basque newspaper Gara often used by the separatist group ETA to announce its intended targets reported that a device was set to explode at the stadium at 9 p.m. (2000 GMT).

The stadium was evacuated at 8:45 p.m. (1945 GMT).

The Interior Ministry confirmed Monday that no device was found adding that police were trying to identify the person responsible for the apparent hoax.

The cavernous stadium in downtown Madrid was evacuated within about eight minutes officials said. Players were escorted to the street covered with blankets against the winter chill.

"We were scared to death Real Madrid player Ivan Helguera said. "It's a shame that sports and politics get mixed up."

The evacuation was front-page news in Spain.

"Macabre Joke" stated AS.

"Soccer is not a matter of life and death stated El Pais.

In May 2002 an ETA bomb exploded near Real Madrid's soccer stadium hours before a Champions League semifinal against Barcelona. Seventeen people were slightly injured.

ETA wants independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and has been blamed for more than 800 deaths in its decades-old campaign of violence.