the shortest game in the world
Madrid is playing Real Sociedad this weekend, just like they did eight years ago (Jan. 5, 2005). On that occasion, however, the game was only six minutes long (plus extra time). That was because the first 87 minutes had been played on Dec. 12, 2004.
Real Madrid took on Real Sociedad at the Bernabéu on that day. In the 87th minute, the score was 1-1. Ronaldo had scored a bicycle kick for the home team in the 41st minute, while Nihat Kahveci had equalized for Real Sociedad in the 72nd. Then the stadium was evacuated, as someone who claimed to speak in the name of ETA had told the newspaper “Gara” that a bomb would explode in the stadium at 21h (the game had started at 19h and it was around 20:45h at that point). The decision was made to immediately suspend the game and evacuate the stadium (tensions were high because several months ago, there had been a series of attempts in eight Spanish cities). The field delegate, Agustín Herrerín, was the first to be notified. He then passed the message on to the fourth official, who went running onto the field to tell the referee, Vicente José Lizondo Cortés. He ordered the players to leave the field immediately. Over the megaphone, the 70,000 fans were told to leave the Bernabéu in an orderly and calm fashion, which they did, so that within 10 minutes, the police was able to take over. Bomb disposal experts, bomb sniffing dogs and Real Madrid’s security team then searched the stadium.
Those fans sitting close to the field left by running across the field, while the rest filed through their respective exits. Those who had radios found out that the reason for the evacuation was a bomb threat. Meanwhile, the 22 footballers were waiting on Concha Espina in their game kits, while the equipment managers tried to give them jackets and drinks to stay warm and recover. Roberto Carlos said, “I never imagined something like this could happen to me,” while Iván Helguera said he was “scared to death.” After a while, it was found to be a false alarm, and the players were allowed to return. The two teams got together to decide when the final minutes would be played, and the following Monday was suggested, but in the end they decided on Jan. 5.
For the few remaining minutes of the game – it was decided to restart the game at the 84th minute mark – Madrid opened the stadium to the public, and since it was the eve of the Three Kings Day, the Bernabéu got quite full for the six minutes of regular time and two minutes of extra time. And the fans got to cheer their little madridista hearts out, as a Zidane penalty (committed on Ronaldo) in the 91st minute gave the victory to Madrid. The game ended 2-1.
So much nostalgia!
Nihat looked back on the games for Marca. He said, “when the referee told us to leave the field, we were all calm, except for Darko Kovačević, who took off running. He was frightened and he got over it quickly. We had a bet going on who would score more goals. On the bus after leaving the stadium, he went up to me and told me, ‘if the game is canceled, your goal won’t count.’ And I answered, ‘joder, Darko, everyone is scared and you’re thinking about the goals.'” Lizondo Cortés said, “I was told the reason for the evacuation, but I didn’t tell the players. They had family and friends at the stadium, and the situation could have gotten complicated if they had run towards the stands. I told them we had to leave and they kept asking me why.”
Of note: Mariano García Remón was the coach for the first part of the game, while Vanderlei Luxemburgo coached Madrid for the second part, a reminder of the coaching instability that season.
That was probably the scariest Real Madrid experience I’ve ever had. I remember rushing out of the stadium, just knowing we had to leave, and then only finding out why afterward. ¡Dios mío! The good thing about this experience was how orderly all the fans left; there was no panic, everyone was just filing out as quickly as they could. It also left the image of a very curious sight, that of all the fans cutting across the field to get to the exits (some even enjoyed this unusual experience because it’s not every day that you get to step on the field of the Bernabéu).