England and Poland fans furious at Polish FA for leaving pitch open to elements

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

the National Stadium

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 of last night's match until 4pm UK time today.

As of last night, the rain had stopped and the tarpaulin roof had at last been closed – the stadium operators had not been able to shut it while the rain had continued. There is also the possibility that the game today will be played behind closed doors, because Polish police will not be able to guarantee the safety of supporters.

There was anger from both sets of fans, especially the English contingent, most of whom have flights back home today and will miss the re-organised game. The Polish supporters chanted "Thieves, thieves" at the PZPN, and waved their tickets in protest at high prices and what they regarded as poor treatment. Many of them will be unable to attend the re-organised match, even if supporters are permitted.

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 Fifa match delegate Danijel Jost of Slovenia. By then the England players were already changed and back on the team coach with the FA having acknowledged that there was no chance of the game going ahead.

The postponement followed discussions for more than an hour 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 firmly 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 side as a leveller for both teams. Last night Hodgson warned that the stadium roof needed to be shut as soon as possible in order to protect the pitch for today's match.

He said: "I was rather hoping they'd close it as quickly as possible and do some work. At the moment the pitch is in a very poor condition, the water is lying on the surface and 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 for it. So we're all very unhappy about it but what can we do? These acts of God – no one can decide whether it's going to rain or not rain, we just have to live with the situation."

Hodgson had picked a team that did not include Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and featured Jermain Defoe in attack instead of Danny Welbeck, a side that the England manager said he was minded to stick to for today's re-organised game. He said: "I hope so, yes. You never know, people can fall ill but 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."

The former England manager Graham Taylor described the organisation of the match as "like Monty Python" and added "If I were a fan, I'd be booing too."

At 7pm, the England goalkeeper coach Dave Watson had taken the three goalkeepers out to warm-up although it quickly became obvious that was impractical and they were called in. Hodgson and Neville inspected the pitch soon after that and England's outfield players never came out. Poland's players warmed-up for a while and then went back in.

The stadium's operators said that they required 24 hours' notice to close the roof which was shut for the first game of Euro 2012 between the co-hosts Poland and Greece. On that occasion, Poland's players had complained about the lack of air and how it made conditions more difficult.

Last night the Italian referee, Gianluca Rocchi, delayed the kick-off until 9pm local time and then went back out for an inspection at that point. A final decision was then put back to 9.45pm and the game was finally postponed 11 minutes later.

Many English supporters were angry at finding out the game was off via text messages from friends at home watching television coverage. Announcements in the stadium were late. The England players did not come out on to the pitch to acknowledge the supporters. The Club England managing director Adrian Bevington said there was no intention to be disrespectful. "These are pretty unique circumstances," he said. "We had said to the players to get changed significantly earlier than when the game would be called off because we didn't think there was any chance of the match being played, but we didn't want it to look as if we'd made their decision for them. There's nothing but respect for the fans who have travelled all that way. No disrespect intended."

Fifa regulation 19.7 dictates that any game called off because of adverse weather has to be played within 24 hours.

Among the England fans was Warren Sadler, from Southend, who was part of a group of 12 supporters. He said: "We knew about this weather. That's why we've all brought coats. How could they not know? We're on a chartered flight and it's cost £400 or so in total, plus the time off work that we've all taken. We were up at 3am to fly out, and we fly back at three on Wednesday morning, so them rearranging for the afternoon [today] is no good to us."

Richard Clark, a service manager from Nottingham, said: "This is the first time I can remember this happening. A game in a major Fifa competition in a stadium built for a competition this year being called off because of the weather. It's absolutely crazy."

The last two England internationals to be called off on the day were in October 1975 when fog in Bratislava meant that a European Championship qualifier against the Czech Republic could not go ahead. It was played the next night when England lost 2-1. In 1979, fog at Wembley meant a European Championship qualifier against Bulgaria had to be called off because of fog. England won 2-0 the next night.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride