Portugal began its international soccer match against Denmark at Wednesday night’s World Cup in Russia with several of its players forced to rush off the field to avoid sustaining serious injuries.
The match was stopped after 20 minutes due to a red card given to striker Lucas Joao for aiming a dangerous tackle on Alen Halilovic, a player for the Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon. In accordance with the new VAR rules that match officials in Russia use to prevent situations that could produce injuries or upset the balance of the match, the match was called off. And it ended shortly after.
Mr. Joao was seen after the match in an icy-looking white coveralls — a sign that the team was refusing to leave the field under the duress of ill-health. “We are going to win this World Cup,” Ronaldo, the team’s best-known player, said after the game, “but I don’t want to talk about the red card.”
The United Nations Department of Human Rights reported that the Portuguese football federation was threatening 10 players for refusing to leave the field and continue playing under dangerous circumstances. The safety of players could have been compromised in part by the influx of 40,000 fans into the stadium.
Before the match, officials had removed a banner displaying support for racist soccer fans from the stadium to avoid further unpleasantries.
The tournament will kick off next Friday when Germany faces Mexico.