Portugal's Primeira Liga was the laughingstock of Europe on Saturday due to the farcical scenes that took place in Benfica's trip to coronavirus-ravaged Belenenses SAD, a game that was ultimately forfeited by the hosts.
B-SAD, a controversial offshoot of historic club Belenenses, were plunged into crisis this week when 13 of their players tested positive for coronavirus – among them was Cafu Phete, who had recently been in South Africa, where the new Omicron variant of the virus was first detected.
Despite the depleted nature of their squad, club president Rui Pedro Soares confirmed earlier in the day they had not asked Benfica to postpone the fixture, seemingly to the dismay of players who published coordinated messages to social media as the match kicked off in Oeiras, Lisbon.
The statement read: "Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is really sporting. Football only has heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football lost its heart."
O futebol só tem cor se tiver competição.— Afonso Sousa (@afonso_sousa10) November 27, 2021
O futebol só tem cor se tiver verdade desportiva.
O futebol só tem cor quando é um exemplo de saúde pública.
Hoje, o futebol perdeu a cor. pic.twitter.com/ujjv5H5Ffp
B-SAD started the match with just nine players on the pitch, many of whom were members of their Under-23s side, and that included goalkeeper Joao Monteiro playing in defence.
Benfica were ahead inside 24 seconds thanks to an own goal by Eduardo Kau; while the visitors did not score again until the 14th minute, the writing was on the wall.
They were 7-0 up at half-time thanks to a Darwin Nunez hat-trick, Haris Seferovic brace and a solitary Julian Weigl goal.
"What is this? Am I the only one who doesn't understand why the game hasn't been postponed?" asked former Benfica player Bernardo Silva on Twitter.
O que é isto? Sou o único a não perceber o porquê do jogo não ter sido adiado?— Bernardo Silva (@BernardoCSilva) November 27, 2021
B-SAD did return to the pitch for the second half but with only seven players, and as soon as the game resumed, the hosts put the ball into touch and another player dropped to the turf citing an injury.
The referee called a halt to the game due to B-SAD running out of players, with teams required to have a minimum of seven on the pitch.
It has not been confirmed whether Benfica will be awarded just a 3-0 win, as is standard for a forfeiture, or take the full 7-0 scoreline.