Concerns Over 'Yellowing' Pitch at Manaus Where England, Italy Face Off On Saturday
The fears in the run-up to England’s opening World Cup match against Italy on Saturday "have focused on the sweltering atmospheric conditions in Manaus," but the players are more concerned about "what is beneath their feet," according to Howard Swains of the LONDON TIMES. Photographs "emerged overnight, taken on a reporter’s smartphone inside the Arena Amazonia, that show a noticeably dry and bare pitch, with large areas of yellowing turf." It "is a far cry from the deep greens of the surrounding rainforest, and a long way from what the England camp might expect for a pitch before such a crucial and high-profile match." Most journalists, including the London Times’ Matt Hughes, "were not allowed into the stadium on a visit to Manaus," and so "could not examine the state of the turf first hand." However, the FIFA local organizing committee said that the grass "will be watered daily from now on" (LONDON TIMES, 6/11).
MANAUS 'IN BAD SHAPE': The London TELEGRAPH reported Carlos Botella, head groundsman for the Royal Verd company which is responsible for the turf at Manaus and six other World Cup stadiums, has conceded that Saturday’s game "will be played out on a desperately inadequate surface." Botella: "Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape. We’ve started to implement an emergency plan to try to save the field and improve it as much as possible, but I don’t think it’ll be in good condition by the weekend" (TELEGRAPH, 6/11). In London, Andy Hodgson reported the problems "are in part down to the excessive use of fertiliser." Emergency repairs "have been carried out and groundsmen are doing all they can to get the surface up to scratch for Saturday." The rest of the stadium "is not yet completely finished and it is reported that naked power cables are dangling from the walls of the changing rooms and that the car parks are not completed" (EVENING STANDARD, 6/11).
NOT TAKING ROOT: In London, Tim Rich reported the surface is made of Bermuda grass supplied by a company in Sao Paulo 1,700 miles to the south. They "were called back to treat the pitch two months ago with bare patches around the goalmouth and a thin covering elsewhere." The grass "was treated by chemical crystals but, given the apparent state of the pitch, it has not worked." While work continued outside the stadium, the authorities "had been outwardly confident that everything inside would be up to World Cup standards." However, the comment by the head of Brazil’s World Cup management unit, Miguel Capobiango, who said that "the grass buds have all taken root and have been at match conditions since the end of December" looks "way short of reality" (INDEPENDENT, 6/11). Also in London, Gary Payne reported witnesses who have inside the stadium said that "the ground is fully functional but not completely finished." Outside the stadium, workers were "still applying a final coat of asphalt, while several security doors could be seen in their packaging, still waiting to be fitted" (GUARDIAN, 6/11).