FIFA backs troubled Saint Petersburg pitch


Saint Petersburg (AFP) – FIFA on Monday said it was confident problems plaguing the pitch at the new Saint Petersburg stadium will be fixed in time for the Confederations Cup in June. 

Last year inspectors said the retractable pitch at the 68,000-seater Saint Petersburg Arena — which is set to hold the opening and final games of the Confederations Cup — was unstable and not fit for matches.   

“There’s a clear plan, engineering plan of the works to be put in and that should be completed within the next two weeks,” Colin Smith, the head of FIFA’s operational commission, said following a visit to the stadium. 

“We’re confident that the measures that have been planned should resolve the situation.”

The pitch issue is the latest headache to hit the venue in Russia’s second city — which is also meant to host games during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

The construction of the arena, which serves as a home ground for Zenit St Petersburg, began in 2007 but was only finished in December after spiralling bills and missed deadlines.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done and completed but we all feel that we’re on the right track,” Smith said. 

“Certainly for June, for the Confederations Cup, there’s all measures in place to make sure that we have the best playing surface possible.”

Other Confederation Cup matches will take place in Sochi, Kazan and Moscow’s Otkrytie arena.

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