Real Madrid was playing the Basque side Real Sociedad in a contest that saw the two sides levelled 1-1 with three minutes remaining when the game was called off and players, including international stars David Beckham and Ronaldo, left the pitch.

Their departure was followed by an announcement over the stadium’s public announcement system telling the crowd of fans to leave the venue.

The ground was cleared without mishap in less than 15 minutes and police and sniffer dogs made a thorough search of the facility.

The alert was given after word had been received that an anonymous caller had rung the Basque newspaper Gara warning that Basque rebel organisation ETA had planted a bomb at the stadium which was timed to go off minutes after the match finished.

According to the caller, the bomb was set to explode at 9:00 pm local time.

At around 8:39 pm, the game was called off and authorities began clearing the stadium and searching for explosives.

By 8:45 pm police declared the venue to be safe and players were able to return to take their showers while pitch officials headed back to their offices.

“Everything seems to indicate that it was a false alarm,” Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, told Spanish television.

Real Madrid midfielder, Guti, told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser: “I have never seen this before and sport should be above it all.”

Officials from both clubs will shortly meet at the Spanish football federation in Madrid to discuss how to determine the final match result.

Real Sociedad has reportedly said it would prefer the 1-1 score be made the official result rather resuming the game at a later date.

The past week has seen a surge in violence attributed to the Basque separatist group.

Earlier on December 12, two makeshift bombs went off outside two businesses in Spain’s Basque region, causing no injuries but damaging buildings.

Regional authorities have laid the blame for the attack on ETA.

Five people were injured on December 6 after bombs were set off in seven Spanish cities on Constitution Day.

Three days before that, coordinated bombings at five Madrid service stations marked the first attacks by the group in two years.

ETA has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and is estimated to have killed nearly 850 people since beginning its armed campaign to wrest control of the Basque territory from Spain and France in 1968.