Normally, Olhanense would take some 1,500 fans to the Stadium of Light but when Benfica announced they would be charging €17.50 for admission, the majority of supporters decided to stay at home and watch the game on TV.
To encourage fans to travel, particularly when games are live on TV, clubs will charge €5 to €10 but, on this occasion, Benfica shot themselves in the foot by being greedy.
The hundred fans who did make the trip included 45 of the Gorilla Group, who were confined to their coach for over an hour when they arrived at the stadium.
Did the police think that the friendly Olhanense fans were looking to exact retribution for the thousands of euros worth of damage done by Benfica fans at the José Arcanjo Stadium last season? Had Sepp Blatter and his cronies at FIFA ordered that all British fans should be treated as hostile? Who knows…
Last season there was a wonderful party atmosphere as Benfica and Olhanense fans mixed freely while enjoying the local hospitality.
No chance on this occasion as more than 20 riot police were on hand to march the group of grandparents, mums and dads, children and expat supporters to their seats. Not the way to welcome a friendly contingent of fans to one of Europe’s top stadiums. No wonder there were only 25,000 in the crowd. C.W.