Manaus pitch a cause for concern ahead of England v Italy clash
Photographs emerge of dry and bare patches three days ahead of game
Picture taken from a smartphone of one of the goal areas at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus on Wednesday, three days before England meet Italy at the stadium. Photograph: Colin Droniou/AFP/Getty Images
Just three days before their opening Group D game against Italy at the new €215 million stadium, the surface looks dry and bare in places, with yellow lines running across the pitch. According to witnesses who have been inside the stadium this week, the ground is fully functional but not completely finished.
In and around the changing rooms, naked power cables could be seen dangling from the walls. According to reports, 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.
England are due to land in Manaus on Thursday morning and the English Football Association has confirmed that one England coach will be sent to the stadium to see how it looks. England will train on the pitch on Friday, 24 hours before the Italy game.
The 46,000-seater stadium in Manaus was built for the World Cup and the pitch was in pristine condition when manager Roy Hodgson visited the city in February, prior to a Fifa workshop. But the playing surface has been undergoing emergency repairs in recent months due to seriously undernourished grass following the excessive use of fertiliser on the new playing surface.
Hodgson’s England team will travel to Manaus on Thursday and there are already concerns about how the players will handle the hot and humid conditions in the Amazonian rainforest. The state of the pitch will only add to the difficulties during the game.
Italy will travel to Manaus one day before kick-off.
A Fifa spokesman said there was no threat to the match taking place.
“The pitch in Manaus has been undergoing treatment in preparation for the Fifa World Cup. Over the last three months, mitigation procedures have been put in place and there continues to be, significant improvement,” said the spokesman.
“Pitch experts from Fifa and the LOC are satisfied that the pitch will be ready for training and the matches, and have been based in Manaus to ensure that all proper procedures are in place.”