The victims of a deadly bomb attack were in the “minds and hearts” of the Manchester United squad that flew to Stockholm for the Europa League final, Jose Mourinho said Tuesday.
The club’s players and coaching staff observed a minute’s silence at a morning training session, a day after at least 22 people were killed when an apparent suicide bomber attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester as the performance ended Monday.
“We cannot take out of our minds and our hearts the victims and their families,” said Mourinho, the United manager who lives in a hotel near the concert venue. “We have a job to do and we will fly to Sweden to do that job. It is a pity we cannot fly with the happiness that we always have before a big game.”
Mourinho’s scheduled news conference later in the day at the Friends Arena in Stockholm was canceled at the club’s request, European soccer’s governing body said. The final against Ajax is on Wednesday.
UEFA also said it has “no specific intelligence” that the game will be a target, with security already intensified following a deadly truck attack in the Swedish capital last month.
“The terrorist risk had been taken into account since the very beginning of the project,” UEFA said, noting it has worked with Swedish authorities “for many months” to plan for the game.
Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said there has been no threat to the match.
“Now, we are prepared for every possible and thinkable (thing) that could happen in Stockholm tomorrow, including terrorist attacks, and we are satisfied with our preparations,” Lindgren said.
“We have been in contact with our English as well as Dutch colleagues and they are helping us with information, they are visiting us tomorrow, and we are quite satisfied with how we are prepared and the information that we get.”
United vice chairman Ed Woodward, writing in an email to his staff, called the attack “senseless” and pledged the club’s help.
“Members of our family of fans and our home community have been affected and we will be reaching out to provide the support of the club in what must be an unimaginably difficult time,” Woodward wrote.
Ajax joined many in the soccer world expressing support for the victims.
“From Amsterdam with love to Manchester,” the Dutch team posted on its official Twitter account. “Our thoughts are with the victims and the loved ones of those affected.”
Fnierop Ferdi, an Ajax fan in Stockholm, said he wasn’t concerned about another attack affecting Wednesday’s match.
“We don’t think about it,” Ferdi said. “Let only idiots do what they want. We will always win, sport.”
United greats used social media to show support for the northern city of Manchester.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who now plays for Real Madrid, posted on his Twitter account a British flag with “MANCHESTER” written across the red central stripe.
Former United midfielder David Beckham wrote on Facebook: “As a father & a human what has happened truly saddens me.”
Old Trafford, including a club store and museum, was closed on Tuesday.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany wrote on Twitter: “I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. It’s a sad day for the great city of Manchester. (hash)Unity.”