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Venezuela clubs honour protesters' deaths with minute of silence

Deportivo Lara midfielder Ricardo Andreutti said it was correct to protest after kick-off.

Venezuelan teams held an improvised minute of silence during two top division games at the weekend, one of them after kick-off, in honour of victims of the recent turmoil in the country.

At least 29 people were killed last month during demonstrations between authorities and anti-government protesters over Venezuela's economic woes of triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and other goods.

The referee had blown his whistle for Sunday's 14th round of Apertura game between hosts Deportivo Lara and Deportivo Anzoategui in the city of Cabudare to start but after one pass was made, all 22 players stood still. Deportivo Anzoategui wrote on their Twitter page during their live coverage that the initiative to hold the minute of silence came from the players.

According to local newspaper El Nacional, the Venezuela Football Federation (FVF), the club executives and the referees had not given authorisation for the minute of silence.

The players' timing caught everyone by surprise, including the TV cameras that could not edit out the coverage.

Deportivo Lara midfielder Ricardo Andreutti said it was "right" for the players to act and quoted Martin Luther King on his Twitter account.

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?'

"And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."

The players received support on social media: "Thank you @rickyAndreutti for your greatness, for the gesture, for proving that we are all together in this fight and that we all deserve a better future," one fan wrote.

Fans criticised TLT channel, which holds the TV rights of Venezuelan football games, for hours later censoring the minute of silence that was observed before the start of the Carabobo FC and Caracas FC league game in the city of Valencia on Sunday.

The cameras did not focus on the two teams on the pitch while they were paying their respects prior to kick-off and instead showed images of the bench players and the fans in the stands at the Polideportivo Misael Delgado stadium.

One fan wrote on her Twitter page: "The commentators fail in their duty: to explain what happens on the field, under their noses, in the moment. If they self-censor they do not do their job."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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