A NATIONAL football league has been thrown into crisis after an entire team was abducted by aliens at the end of a crunch derby game.
All 11 players in Slovenia's Produce Sparta side literally dematerialised on the full time whistle after a narrow victory over Sredjna Vas Albion in a Western Bohinj Division Two fixture.
Now the league is being forced to restructure as the so-called ‘Sunny side of the Alps' comes to terms with yet another bizarre on-field incident that has attracted international attention.
Last season, Sparta's rivals in this ill-fated game, Sredjna Vas, had a crucial promotion game halted when the Messiah put in a surprise but short appearance. However that game did not result in a single abduction.
This time, though, some of Slovenia's top players have now been posted missing. While reports from individuals in the small crowd who witnessed the incident indicate that there appeared to be no malevolent intent from the space visitors, fears are now mounting for the players' safety.
Residents in the few cottages that surround Ukanc Park, where the incident occurred, have reported that the team briefly re-materialised on the pitch a few days after the initial abduction.
"They seemed to be wandering around in a daze." said goat herder Sefton Szcipiel (32). "It was as though they were trying to work out what had happened and where they were. They didn't seem very pleased though.
"But just when they seemed to be getting their bearings, they disappeared again without a word of warning.
"It was very odd and certainly frightened quite a few of my grazing chamoix."
Sparta's fans, however, remain convinced that their team will reappear unharmed. And they are confident they will pick up their league challenge.
"The only danger," conceded lifelong supporter Marysia Delmer (46), "is that their absence from the league will spur others on.
"Of course, it is always possible that there may be further abductions. We don't really know what it is the aliens want. They may be harmless and just have a curiosity about how the league runs.
"But I do feel the team will be back though things might never be the same again."
Full details of the bizarre derby game can be found in Match reports