NYON, Switzerland (AP) – FC Twente hopes that progressing to the global spotlight of the Champions League group stage can help the Dutch club cope with the trauma of a stadium construction accident that killed two people.
The Grolsch Veste venue in the Netherlands town of Enschede is still being treated as a crime scene eight days after a roof collapsed during renovation work, and staff are being offered counseling, club officials said Friday.
''It's a tragedy that we're overpowered by,'' Twente operations manager Eugenio Porcu told The Associated Press at UEFA headquarters.
''Due to this tragedy, people came to each other because they experienced it together. There's a special feeling of bonding together,'' he said.
Porcu described the ''fantastic'' prospect of speeding the club's recovery by reaching the elite group stage of the world's most prestigious club competition.
Twente begins a quest to advance through two preliminary rounds with its first competitive match since the July 7 accident.
The Dutch league runner-up was paired Friday with Champions League newcomers FC Vaslui, which placed third in the Romanian league last season.
However, Twente's stadium can't host the ''home'' leg on July 26 which will likely be played 56 miles (90 kilometers) away at the Gelredome in Arnhem.
''There is an investigation by the justice department,'' Porcu said. ''It's not our part of the stadium any more. We're waiting for clearance to remove the (debris).''
The cause of the collapse, which sent steel girders and red roof panels crashing down on a concrete terrace behind the southern goal, is still unknown.
Construction workers were adding a new tier above existing seating to increase the stadium's capacity to 30,000 from 24,000.
''Hopefully in a short period of time we can put seats in and make it a safe stadium again. Maybe at a later stage we can put the roof on top,'' Porcu said.
The renovation reflected Twente's ambition after winning the Dutch league in 2010, that earned entry into a Champions League group that included Inter Milan and Tottenham. It then finished the domestic season a close second to traditional powerhouse Ajax of Amsterdam.
Twente can't be sure of fulfilling its first home Dutch league fixture, scheduled for the evening of Aug. 13 against AZ Alkmaar, Porcu said.
Without floodlights at one end, the club would prefer to play the following afternoon.
The club's close-knit community values are helping it recover from the accident, which also injured more than a dozen people.
''Some were working on the first tier and had to flee for their lives,'' Porcu said. ''Some of our people are still shocked. We had to fly in professional help.
''But this will make us stronger as an organization, absolutely.''