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Soccer Official Anthrax Hoax Target

October 19, 2001

IPSWICH, England (AP) _ An official of Swedish soccer club Helsingborg was the target of an anthrax hoax before a UEFA Cup game against Ipswich, police said Friday.

Helsingborg’s sporting director, Thomas Stenberg, found an envelope containing white powder shoved under his hotel room door early Thursday.

Police and emergency crews were called to the Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club complex shortly after midnight.

Those who came into contact with the envelope were decontaminated and, after four hours of tests, authorities determined the powder came from a sports energy drink.

Police said the hoax was carried out by two unidentified guests at the 30-room hotel. They declined to say whether the two guests, who received police warnings, were Helsingborg players or not.

``It was quickly established that this was a practical joke played by two hotel guests on another guest,″ a police statement said. ``It has now been confirmed that the substance in the envelope was an energy drink.″

Police superintendent Geoff Munns added: ``While it is now clear there was no malicious intent behind this prank I cannot emphasize enough the foolishness of the action of these people.

``This unthinking act not only caused hotel staff and other guests unwarranted anxiety, but also needlessly diverted the emergency services, wasting time and potentially putting genuine victims of an emergency at risk.″

Helsingborg press officer Gunnar Brink sought to downplay the matter.

``There was an incident involving a threat _ that is how the police and authorities evaluated it,″ he said. ``The incident is now over and done with and the club have nothing more to say on the matter.″

Ipswich and Helsingborg tied 0-0 Thursday.

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