Sporting cut ties with Benfica

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Lisbon, Feb 12 (IANS) Portuguese football club Sporting Lisbon has announced it had cut institutional ties with rivals Benfica after fans threw fireworks during Sunday’s Lisbon derby.

“During the derby Sunday, at the Jose Alvalade stadium, the threats rendered the night before (“tomorrow there will be more”) were materialised with the indiscriminate launch of pyrotechnic devices,” Sporting said in the statement, published on its official website Wednesday, reports Xinhua.

“We are faced with no other alternative than cutting the institutional relationship with SLB (Sport Lisboa e Benfica),” the statement concluded.

The statement said that Saturday, at the Luz Stadium in Lisbon, during a match between the home team and Sporting, “a large banner was displayed from the top of one of the benches” that read “very light 1996”.

“This unspeakable phrase is a reference to the barbaric murder of the Sporting fan Rui Mendes, at the end of the Portuguese Cup,” the statement said.

In the 1995-96 season, Sporting fan Rui Mendes died when he was hit by dangerous fireworks during the Portuguese Cup final. Benfica beat Sporting 3-1 in the match.

According to Sporting, the Benfica fans holding up the banner also chanted “tomorrow there will be more”.

The statement also said that Benfica’s president took no measures at the time and did not issue a statement to “repudiate” the reference to Mendes’ death.

Also, a Benfica spokesperson had dubbed the incident as ” folklore”, the statement said.

The match ended 1-1 Sunday in the 20th round of the Portuguese league. During the match seven fans were injured and two were arrested by police.

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