Women’s World Cup Security Heightened Ahead Of Opening Match Following Deadly Shooting In Auckland

By: Gyang Dakwo

Security has been heightened ahead of Thursday night’s opening Women’s World Cup game after a gunman killed two people at a downtown construction site in Auckland, roughly 12 hours ahead of co-host New Zealand’s match against Norway.

Norway’s team hotel was located within a short distance of the shooting, which occurred in the tourist area of the city near the harbor ferry terminal. Norway captain Maren Mjelde said teammates were awakened by a helicopter hovering outside the hotel.

“We felt safe the whole time,” Mjelde said in a statement. “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.”

Officials from Eden Park, where the game was scheduled to be played following an opening ceremony for the tournament, encouraged ticket holders to arrive to the stadium early.

“There will be an increased security presence within the precinct and across the venue. Additional traffic management measures are in place,” Eden Park said.

The shooting happened early Thursday morning at the start of rush hour in New Zealand’s largest city. The gunman was armed with a pump-action shotgun, said itNew Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. He added that police arrived a minute after the first emergency call and had run straight into harm’s way to save the lives of others.

The gunman was found dead in an elevator, said Acting Police Superintendent Sunny Patel.

In addition to the three dead, at least four others were injured, including a police officer who was transported to the hospital in critical condition but is now listed in stable condition, the New Zealand police said on its Twitter account.

FIFA also issued a statement saying its president, Gianni Infantino, and general-secretary, Fatma Samoura, were in constant contact with local authorities and participating teams in the vicinity.

According to the statement, soccer’s world governing body “has been informed that this is an isolated incident that was not related to football operations and the opening match will proceed as planned.”