Football

"tragedy avoided": Fans evacuated as wind rips up roof before Benfica game

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A potential disaster was narrowly averted at Benfica's Esatdio da Luz yesterday when their game against Sporting Lisbon was postponed because of high winds which ripped off some of the stadium's roof and showered it onto the pitch and crowd.

The stadium is due to host the Champions League final in May and the incident will certainly worry officials who were forced to evacuate the crowd after they were reportedly showered with glass.

The kick-off between the two Portuguese rivals was delayed because of the high winds, before it was eventually postponed after the scheduled start.

The president of the Portuguese Football League Mario Figueiredo claimed that decisive action following a pre-game meeting which led to the decision to call off the game and evacuate the crowd 'avoided a tragedy'.

"There were small pieces of glass which had come off the roof," he told a news conference at the Stadium of Light.

"An emergency meeting was held around 15 minutes before the kick-off and we asked the civil defence if the game could go ahead. They said it couldn't and told us to evacuate the stadium as quickly as possible.

"Fortunately this measure was decided in good time because shortly afterwards the pieces [of the roof] started to fall. A tragedy was avoided. We had to take this drastic decision."

Despite Figueiredo's comments however, Sporting Lisbon's official supporters group claim they were put in danger after they were kept in the stadium while Benfica fans were evacuated first.

"The Sporting fans were only allowed to leave the stadium around one hour after it was announced the game had been postponed," they said in a statement.

"The fans were kept in a sporting arena that was not safe enough to stage the match."

The match has been rescheduled for tomorrow.

Check out the video from last night's game below.

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