Storm briefly stops Euro 2012 game in Ukraine
Ukraine’s match against France at the European Championship
restarted following nearly an hour delay on Friday after a
thunderstorm broke over the Donbass Arena.
Dutch referee Bjoern Kuipers had pointed upward and blown his
whistle in the fifth minute of the match, prompting players to
sprint to the tunnel as torrential rain poured down and lightning
flashed in the sky.
Some fans stayed in their seats and even danced in the downpour.
The rain eventually began to ease and groundsmen were sent out to
spike the field, allowing it to drain.
The match restarted 56 minutes later.
UEFA rules state that if play is postponed for the rest of the
day, the players will have to come back to complete the remaining
minutes on Saturday.
Shortly before kickoff, the French national anthem had been
interrupted by a loud clap of thunder. About 49,000 rain-soaked
Ukrainians then bellowed out their anthem.
The early exchanges in the match were cautious, with both sides
losing control of a ball that was being held up in the pools of
water that were already beginning to form.
Kuipers only needed a few minutes to decide that the players’
safety, given the lightning, and the increasingly unplayable field
made it impossible to continue.
As the teams waited for the decision, substitutes from the
France team, including forward Hatem Ben Arfa and midfielder Yann
M’Vila, tested out the playing surface. They dropped the ball on
the ground to see how it would bounce, and hit low passes to see
how much the puddles slowed the ball.
The players received a huge roar as they emerged from the tunnel
moments after the decision to restart was announced.