Benfica match canceled after opponent hit by Covid left with six players
The game was then adjourned two minutes after the break when Joao Monteiro, a goalkeeper playing in midfield, sat down unable to continue, forcing the referee to abandon the game which required a minimum of seven players.
After testing positive for Covid-19 in the team earlier in the week, a total of 17 cases have been reported among Belenenses players and staff, club president Rui Pedro Soares told a press conference. on the Saturday before the game.
The Belenenses players shared a message on social media before the match that read: “Football only has a heart if it’s competitive. Football only has a heart if it’s really a sport. Ball. Football only has a heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football loses its heart.”
Soares told reporters that he had unsuccessfully asked authorities to postpone the match.
“In the middle of the afternoon we informed Liga that we did not want to play the match,” he said.
“We have eight players who could be in the game and so they told us that if we don’t attend it will be an unprovoked absence.
“Playing here today is a shame for all of us.”
Benfica president Rui Costa said his side had no choice but to play Saturday’s game.
“We don’t want to get on the pitch in these conditions,” he said. “Benfica was forced to do it like Belenenses. I’m sorry for what happened today, a dark chapter for Portuguese football and for the country itself.”
Sporting, third in the standings behind Benfica, also released a statement.
“What has made this situation possible must be deeply reflected by all defenders of sporting truth and must deserve the highest level of national attention.” it said.
“It received international attention and marked another dark period in Portuguese football…”