Goalkeeper Joao Montiro, who plays in the midfield, sat down unable to continue and the game was stopped two minutes after the break, forcing the referee to drop a game that required at least seven players.
Following the team’s positive Covit-19 test earlier this week, a total of 17 cases were reported between the Belenens players and staff, club president Rui Pedro Soros told a news conference Saturday before the match.
Belenenses players shared a message on social media before the game: “Football only has a heart if it’s really competitive. Football only has a heart if it’s really a sport. Football only has a heart when it’s an example of public health. Today, football has lost its heart.”
Soros told reporters he did not ask authorities to postpone the game.
“In the middle of the afternoon we told Liga we didn’t want to play the game,” he said.
“We had eight players who could attend the game and they told us it would be unfair if we didn’t attend the game.
“It was a shame for all of us to play here today.”
Benfica captain Rui Costa said he had no choice but to play Saturday’s game.
“We don’t want to enter the pitch under these conditions,” he said. “Benfica was forced to do the same as Pelino. I’m sorry for what happened today, a dark chapter for Portuguese football and the country.”
Sporting ranks third behind leaders Benfica, and released a statement.
“What made this situation possible is that the game deserves a deeper response from all who defend the truth and deserves national attention at the highest level,” it said.
“It’s already receiving international attention and marks another dark chapter in Portuguese football …”