The Omicron strain also hits football. 17 cases of possible infection in the Portuguese Belenenses team

The match in the Primeira Liga, played on Saturday by Benfica at Belenenses was abandoned against the background of extraordinary scenes, after the hosts, affected by COVID-19, could not line up a complete 11 at the start, the rules stipulating that on the game sheet must be at least 9 players – including two goalkeepers.

Benfica took advantage of their numerical superiority to score seven goals until the break, before Belenenses returned from the locker room with only seven players for the second half.

The match was interrupted two minutes after the start of the half, when Joao Monteiro, a goalkeeper who was playing in the middle of the field, fell to the ground, unable to continue, forcing the referee to abandon the game, which can not continue without a minimum of seven players.

Following COVID-19 tests by the team earlier in the week, a total of 17 cases were reported among Belenenses players and staff, club president Rui Pedro Soares told a news conference Saturday before the match. , quoted by Reuters.

Shortly after the match, the presidents of Benfica and Belenenses said in a new press conference that they had no choice but to play the match, otherwise they risked an “unjustified absence”. They accused the League of not allowing it. postponement of the match.

One of the Belenenses players, defender Cafu Phete, tested positive in the COVID-19 test, after returning to Portugal last week, from a call-up to the South African national team.

Belenenes’ president, Rui Pedro Soares, said he was worried that the cases in the team could be related to the new Omicron variant.

To date, no cases of the new COVID-19 have been reported in Portugal.

Responding to the allegations, the Portuguese football league told the Lusa news agency that it had not received a formal request to postpone the match.

In a statement, the League said it would open an investigation to determine responsibilities, especially “related to compliance with health protocols.”

The league also convened emergency meetings with the government and the DGS health authority to obtain information on the COVID-19 protocol in force.

Without giving further details, DGS said it does not comment on football matches. A DGS spokesman told Reuters that it was not up to the health authority to postpone a match, but only to assess the situation of COVID-19 and implement measures, such as self-isolation, to stop the spread.

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