The Pro League, the federation of Belgium's top soccer clubs, has disregarded government advice to cancel its fixtures as parts of the country raise their terror threat to "imminent". Four fixtures are expected to go ahead today despite the Flemish Parliament cancelling all activities, the Free University of Brussels (VUB) halting classes and the metro system in Brussels closed until Sunday.
Brussels raised its terror alert to the highest possible this morning. The threat level has been escalated to "very serious" in the city, where many of the suspects in last Friday's Paris attacks hail from, whilst the rest of Belgium remain at level three or "serious".
The Belgian government has issued advice instructing citizens to avoid crowds, including shopping centres and concerts. The last time any part of the country was put on the maximum level four terror alert was in May 2014 after four people were shot dead at a Jewish Museum in Brussels.
Belgium's friendly football match against Spain in Brussels, scheduled to be played on Tuesday this week, was called off. However, four fixtures are expected to go ahead today with one of them Oud-Heverlee Leuven Vs Genk set to take place in Leuven – just a few miles east of Brussels.
The Pro League said on its website that they were informed this morning of the recommendation by the Belgian Crisis Centre. But directors unanimously decided to play the seven remaining matches of Jupiler Pro League as it was just Brussels that remained at the highest threat level.
They said: "We recall that the maximum, scattered precautions for the clubs will be respected and that, if necessary, in consultation with the local authorities will still be completed. If concretely demonstrable threats are known to the local authorities, these authorities will proceed to the cancellation of the games which is clearly their responsibility."
Brussels was home to at least four of the terror suspects that orchestrated last week's Paris atrocities including Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was suspected of having been the mastermind behind the attacks which killed 130 people. And one of those being sought, Salah Abdeslam, is believed to have gone back to Belgium.
"The advice for the population is to avoid places where a lot of people come together like shopping centres, concerts, events or public transport stations wherever possible," a spokesman for the government's crisis centre said according to the Guardian.
The threat level across Belgium was raised to 'three' a week ago in the wake of the Paris attacks, warning of a "possible or probable" threat. And since then Belgian authorities have charged three people with involvement in the attacks, which Islamic State (IS) have claimed responsibility for.
Interior Minister Jan Jambon told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad: "I do not think that public life must be shut down, but rather that we must take the necessary measures." The minister added that, if necessary, they will check every house in the Molenbeek district of Brussels where some of the terrorists were based.
In new developments, Turkish police said they had arrested a Belgian national of Moroccan descent on suspicion that he scouted out sites for the attacks in Paris. And on Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to "redouble" action against Islamic State following last week's deadly attacks in the French capital in which 130 people died.