Swedes seek early ruling from Fifa over closing roof

Hosts to seek direction from world body on Friend Arena in Stockhom, insisting Trapattoni stance is ‘illogical’ and unfair to fans

Sweden have played two games to date at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, with the stadium roof closed on both occasions

Sweden have played two games to date at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, with the stadium roof closed on both occasions

Wed, Mar 20, 2013, 08:36

The Swedish Football Federation will attempt to obtain an early ruling from Fifa on whether the roof of the Friends Arena can be closed on Friday night, after Giovanni Trapattoni indicated on Monday he would prefer it to stay open for the Ireland ’s World Cup qualifier.

Normally Fifa look for agreement between the two sides on issues like this but where that is not possible and the conditions are considered to be a major factor then its representatives can make the decision in consultation with the referee.

The hosts have played their only two games to date at their new national stadium with the roof closed, despite conditions having been milder on each occasion than they are expected to be during this World Cup qualifier. SFF officials insist that the normal procedure of deciding the matter on the morning of the game will not give enough time to warn the 50,000 spectators, many of whom might seriously misjudge how well to wrap up.

“I’m not worried,” maintained the federation’s manager of team affairs, Lars Richt, when asked about an issue which has come to dominate the local media’s build up to the game. “I believe the roof will be closed. Any other decision would be illogical.

“I will contact the match commissioner before Friday, though, to try to get some kind of ruling. For the players this is not such a big issue, they will be running around all night, but the fans should know whether they are dressing to watch a game in 15 degrees or -10.”

The players, indeed, seem to be taking the entire thing in their stride with Celtic ’s Mikael Lustig suggesting that he and his team-mates had been waiting for some controversy or other to be stirred up by Trapattoni. “It’s no great surprise,” he says. “We talked about it amongst the players and the Italians always want to create disorder.”

His team-mates are quick to play down the significance of the issue as well with Sebastian Larsson agreeing that it is just a distraction.

“Sometimes there is something real at the heart of an argument like this and sometimes it is just about gaining a psychological advantage. If it is the latter I don’t think it will work and even if they get their way, we should remember that we are more used to playing in the cold than the Irish.”