LISBON: An inquiry has been launched by the Portuguese football federation into Saturday’s farcical Lisbon derby between Benfica and Belenenses.

The game was abandoned early in the second half after a Covid outbreak had forced Belenenseds to start the match with only nine men, two of them goalkeepers.

Instead of postponing the game when news emerged that 14 players and three staff members had tested positive, the Portuguese league allowed it go ahead because both clubs were able to field the minimum required seven players.

Belenenses went behind in the first minute to an own goal, and were 7-0 down at the break.

After an extended half-time, only seven Belenenses players returned to start the second half. A minute later the referee was forced to call the game off when João Monteiro, a goalkeeper playing in midfield, dropped to the pitch claiming injury.

The Belenenses players had released a joint statement before kick-off, saying: “Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is sporting. Football only has heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football has lost its heart.”

The club’s president, Rui Pedro Soares, said that despite the rash of positive tests he had not requested a postponement due to fears over fixture congestion.