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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Power Failure Leaves Soccer Fans in the Dark

The European 2004 qualifying match between Georgia and Russia was postponed Saturday because of power failure late in the first half. In the final minutes before the break, the lights went out throughout the southern half of Tbilisi, which includes Lokomotiv stadium, where a crowd of 23,000 fans -- among them Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze -- were left in darkness.

The lights remained off for more than 30 minutes, at which point, in accordance with UEFA regulations, the match was abandoned.

The match was closely followed in both Russia and Georgia because it came amid simmering political tensions between the two countries.

Georgian fans threw rocks at the two buses carrying Russian players and journalists as they headed from the stadium to the airport, Russian news agencies reported Sunday. Georgian police denied the reports.

Georgia offered to replay the game Sunday, but Russia refused because it faces Albania on Wednesday. The game will be replayed in Tbilisi either in November or in March, the head of the Russian Soccer Union, Vyacheslav Koloskov, told Interfax Sunday. He said he regarded the power failure as an accident.

However, the Georgian Ministry of the State Security has opened a criminal investigation into the Saturday blackout, suspecting sabotage, Interfax reported Sunday.

The U.S. company AES-TELASI, which owns the right to distribute electricity in Tbilisi, told Interfax that no reason for the power failure could be identified as of Sunday afternoon.

Russia beat Ireland 4-2 in a qualifying opener in September, while Georgia lost to Switzerland 4-1.

(AP, MT)