Polish FA rain on Hodgson's parade following roof farce


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The Independent Online

England's World Cup qualifier against Poland descended into farce yesterday after the Polish FA (PZPN) ignored weather forecasts and left the roof of the stadium open, with a five-hour pre-match deluge forcing a postponement until 4pm UK time today.

As of last night, the rain had still not stopped which meant that the tarpaulin roof could not be closed - the stadium owners will not close it as long as the rain continues. There was also the possibility that the game today, should it go ahead, will be played behind closed doors, because of crowd safety reasons.

There was anger from both sets of fans, especially the English contingent most of whom have flights back home today all will miss the re-organised game. The Polish supporters chanted "Thieves, thieves" at the PZPN.

The decision to call the game off was finally made at 9.56pm local time, more than an hour after the original kick-off time. By then the England players were already changed and back on the team coach.

The postponement followed discussions between the PZPN contingent and Roy Hodgson, Gary Neville and other FA officials. The Poles wanted the game to be moved to the next Fifa international week next month, when England are due to play Sweden in a friendly in Stockholm. That option was rejected by the English FA.

It is understood that the PZPN knew about the forecast of heavy rain but the coach Waldemar Fornalik ruled that the National Stadium's roof should stay open as the weather would be of benefit to his team as a leveller for both teams. Last night Hodgson said: "I was rather hoping they'd close it as quickly as possible and do some work. It's going to need a lot of attention if it's going to be playable [today].

"Of course the players are disappointed. Because when you've got a game in the evening you spend a long day preparing. So we're all very unhappy about it but what can we do?"

Hodgson had picked a team that did not include Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and featured Jermain Defoe in attack instead of Danny Welbeck. The England manager said he would stick with the same side today. He said: "I'd chosen the team that I wanted to start the game and I have no intention of changing it unless someone falls ill in the meantime."