After 13 Belenenses players tested positive for Covid-19, club president Rui Pedro Soares named Bafana Bafana international Thibang Phete as the source of the outbreak.
The Portuguese club were forced to go ahead with their Premeira Liga top-flight fixture against Benfica this past Saturday, despite 13 players testing positive for the new Omicron variant, only to see the game abandoned in chaotic scenes during the second half.
With so many players out of the clash, Belenenses were forced to name just nine players – including two goalkeepers – in their starting lineup. The match, however, was abandoned in the second half when injuries reduced them to only six players.
According to the club, all 13 confirmed positive cases accounted for every case in the country at that time and 44 players and staff were forced into self-isolation while most of those infected were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
With Bafana Bafana star Phete testing positive on return from international duty on Thursday, 25 November, he has been named as the source of the outbreak by Soares.
Speaking at a media conference after the abandoned game against Benfica, the president insisted that the game should have never gone ahead.
“In the middle of the afternoon we communicated to the Liga that we didn’t want to play the game,” Soares said.
“We had eight players who could attend the game and, as such, they told us that if we didn’t attend the game it would be unjustified absence.
“Playing here today was a shame for all of us.
“We did not like to enter the pitch under these conditions. Benfica was forced to do it like Belenenses. I regret what happened today, a dark chapter for Portuguese football and for the country itself.”
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