Storm delays Euro 2012 game in Ukraine
The Ukraine-France game at the European Championship was halted
for nearly an hour Friday because of a fierce thunderstorm.
Just five minutes into the game, Dutch referee Bjoern Kuipers
pointed upward and blew his whistle, signaling a rare stoppage for
weather. The players sprinted to the tunnel at Donbass Arena as
torrential rain poured and lightning flashed in the night sky.
Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin stood in the tunnel and looked
concerned, a towel wrapped around his shoulders. Some fans stayed
in their seats and even danced in the downpour.
The rain eventually eased and groundskeepers began draining the
field with spiked tools. Play resumed after a 56-minute delay.
The match started at 6 p.m. local time and once play stopped
organizers said the game would not resume before 7 p.m., weather
permitting. European soccer rules state that if play is postponed
for the day, the rest of the game must be completed the next
Shortly before kickoff, the French national anthem had been
interrupted by a clap of thunder. About 49,000 rain-soaked
Ukrainians then bellowed their anthem.
The early exchanges in the match were cautious, with both sides
losing control of a ball held up in pools of water already
beginning to form. Kuipers needed only a few minutes to decide that
the players’ safety was compromised by the lightning and
increasingly unplayable field.
As the teams waited for a decision on the resumption of play,
substitutes from the France team, including forward Hatem Ben Arfa
and midfielder Yann M’Vila, tested the surface. They dropped the
ball to see how it would bounce and hit low passes to see how much
the puddles slowed the ball.
The players were greeted with a roar from the fans as they
emerged from the tunnel moments after the decision to restart the