Stadium fire shocks Obafemi Martins, Shenhua
Nigerian international Obafemi Martins woke up in shock Tuesday, following midnight fire that consumed a section of Hongkou Football Stadium, the home ground of Shanghai Shenhua.
Debris reportedly fell from the exterior of the stadium as billowing smoke and flames were visible from the adjacent road.
The good thing however was that the blaze was quickly contained and there were no casualties.
Local media reports in Shanghai suggest damage was restricted to the outside of the 33,000-capacity venue, with no damage to the stands or pitch.
The cause is yet to be officially confirmed but there are suggestions the fire began at the facility’s indoor rock climbing centre.
Shenhua are set to play back-to-back away games against Beijing Guoan and Hebei China Fortune before a scheduled return to the Hongkou Football Stadium to host Changchun Yatai on April 16.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) later confirmed that the “core area” of the Hongkou Football Stadium escaped major damage and that its suitability to host matches “has not changed”.
The CFA emphasised there would be no need for Shenhua to find an alternative stadium to play Changchun unless local safety authorities decide otherwise.
Shenhua, coached by former Uruguay international Gus Poyet, made global headlines around the turn of the year when they signed Carlos Tevez from Boca Juniors on a contract reported to be worth £615,000 per week.
Local media report further confirmed that Shanghai Shenhua players who are gearing up to take up Beijing Guoanon on Sunday, were shocked by the inferno but were consoled that the fire was contained in record time and that there were no casualty.
Obafemi Martins joined the Chinese Super League side from Major League Side Seattle sounders in 2016. He has so far made about 26 appearances for the side scoring nine goals in the bargain.