Indonesia hotel bombings: Manchester United call off trip after terror blasts

17 July 2009 08:23
With at least eight people killed and many more injured as a result of two suicide bombings in the Indonesian capital, one in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel that United were due to check int, the club have moved quickly to cancel their fixture against an Indonesian Select XI in Jakarta on Monday.

Official advice on the Foreign Office website as recently as April warned travellers of a 'high threat from terrorism' in Indonesia, a country scarred by two recent terror attacks in Bali, plus fatal bombings on the Australian Embassy and Jakarta's Marriott Hotel, which was attacked again in the latest terrorist episode.

 Related ArticlesFerguson 'shocked' by events in JakartaUnited sign striker DioufUnited brand grows strongerNine dead in Indonesia hotel bombingsUnited and Liverpool terror fearWill Tevez exit shift balance?United agreed to the Indonesia trip, worth around £2 million, after talks with the Foreign Office, who downgraded Indonesia's terror level from high to general last month, their own security team and authorities in Jakarta.

At no stage were United advised not to travel to Jakarta. Gill said the decision to visit was taken only after high-level advice suggested it would be a safe destination for Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.

Gill said: 'We didn't just take the decision ourselves. We discussed it with the experts and felt that Indonesia was a safe place to go.

'I think we have now made the correct decision [to cancel the trip], regrettable as it is.'

Club officials and the tour organisers, ProEvents, ruled out suggestions that the attacks were timed to coincide with United's trip, but the club's visit, and their accommodation arrangements, had been publicised in the local media.

United are accompanied by their own security team when they travel, at home or abroad, but access to the team's hotel in Kuala Lumpur, where they play a Malaysian XI, was surprisingly straightforward, just hours after the attacks in Jakarta.

There were no visible security checks, with police chatting in groups in the hotel foyer while journalists and supporters entered the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

United have reviewed their security arrangements here since the Jakarta bombings are constantly monitoring the situation.

'We'll take the necessary advice, but we've already met with the British High Commission and the appropriate people,' said Gill. 'We've made the right decision and we move on, but we won't be dissuaded by this very unfortunate incident.'

United are now in talks with ProEvents in an effort to stage the Jakarta fixture in Kuala Lumpur on Monday before moving on to Seoul on Wednesday, as originally planned.

There are no plans for United to abort the tour, but Ferguson, who is due to give summer signing Michael Owen his debut, said the club had no option but to cancel the trip to Jakarta.

Ferguson said: 'We only found out when we landed in Kuala Lumpur. We'd never been to Indonesia before and the organisers had worked hard to get us over there.

'Our decision to cancel the trip is a terrible disappointment for our supporters, but there was no other way we could have looked at the situation with regard to the safety of our players, staff and fans.'

Club captain Gary Neville claimed that the players would not be affected by the events in Jakarta. 'As for it happening at the hotel we were due to stay at, that's beyond our control. We're just here to play football.'


Source: Telegraph