Update: The storm that forced what initially looked like a temporary suspension of Galatasaray-Juventus has led the match to be suspended. According to UEFA’s rules, the game must be made up tomorrow. If it can’t move forward on Wednesday, UEFA will have to set another date for the match.
Thirty minutes into today’s UEFA Champions League match in Istanbul, players were back in their locker rooms, stars like Didier Drogba, Carlos Tévez, and Wesley Sneijder forced to take a back seat to battalion of anonymous, shovel-laden soldiers. What started as a normal game between two teams contesting a knockout round spot soon put all the weather talk around Saturday’s MLS Cup to shame. Roughly 15 minutes before halftime, a hail storm that created a sheet of ice at the Turk Telecom Arena had rekindled memories of the United States’s snow game versus Costa Rica, only this time the game was stopped.
The match began with no snow in sight, but shortly after the minutes’ hail forced referee Pedro Proença to call for the orange snow ball, the Portuguese official pulled the teams’ captains to the sideline, eventually concluding the 0-0 game couldn’t go on. The flash storm had covered every line on the field, making impossible to tell where the penalty boxes started and stopped, or when a ball was in or out.
Soon staff were on the pitch with snow shovels, pushing inches of ice away from the field’s lines, while plows cleared the penalty areas. When the lines for the six and 18-yard boxes reappeared, they were painted orange in the hope something could offset the snow.
But as the day’s other games reached their natural intermissions, the ice was still winning in Istanbul, Galatasaray and Juventus forced to take their intermission nearly 15 minutes early. While seven other games went on around Champions League, Turk Telecom Arena’s clock read “31:00,” the officials still trying to determine when the match would continue.