Real Madrid were hosting Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals of 1997/98 UEFA Champions League (when we went on to win the seventh Champions League) at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. There were 85,000 in attendance at one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world.
As is the tradition, the Champions League anthem was played, players shook hands, the coin toss took place, players were warmed up and ready to go. The goals were checked by the referees and action was about to begin. A few minutes before kickoff, there was a slight problem. One of the goal was pulled down!
The net of the goal was attached to a fence separating the fans from the pitch. The Ultra Sur were violently shaking the fence and with this, the fence collapsed. With the fence collapsing, the netting and thereafter the goal went stumbling down to the ground as well. This meant the goal couldn’t be used and there was a need for another goal. Unluckily, there wasn’t a spare goal present at the stadium.
Many frantic calls by “men in suits” were made to arrange a goal but there was no immediate solution. Many attempts were made to fix the goal but it was beyond repair.
Manuel Fernández Trigo was in-charge of internal affairs at the club at that time. He tried to call the fire department to fix it but understandably, this was a unique situation which he hadn’t handled before. Eventually, Eduardo Casabella and Agustín Herrerín (current Bernabeu field delegate) were on task to arrange a goal from a nearby training ground. But, how do you transport a goal to a stadium in this short time period? While the goal won’t fit in a car, a socio – Cándido Gómez, offered his van for the club to get the goal from the training ground.
Finally after rigorous work of 24 ball boys, officials and support staff, the goal was installed and the game took place amid applause from the supporters. Yet again, the bottom of the goal was tied to the fence behind but this time members of Ultra Sur were asked to stay away from the fence. In total a delay of seventy five minutes was caused and Borussia Dortmund, expectedly, weren’t amused. Irrespective, the game went on and Real Madrid went on to win the match 2-0 courtesy goals from Morientes and Karembeu. UEFA fined Real Madrid 115 million pesetas.
Real Madrid host Borussia Dortmund on 6 November, just ensure Ultra Sur aren’t sitting behind the goal!