World Cup 2014: Pitch on which England will play opening game against Italy needs urgent repairs
The Amazonian heat has made the turf difficult to grow
The pitch on which England will begin their World Cup campaign against Italy in 86 days’ time is undergoing emergency repair work after the overuse of fertiliser killed sections of the parched turf.
The Amazonian heat has made the turf difficult to grow in this city and clearly in need of heavy daily watering, with two sprinklers working when The Independent viewed the stadium. But the bald sections with no growth are the most obvious defect, leading the state overseer of the stadium project, Jerocilio Silva, to admit that they had been fertilised too aggressively. He said that the Sao Paulo company in charge of the pitch surface had been called back in to resolve the problem. Green crystals are visible in the affected bald areas. “That’s the treatment for it to blossom again,” said Silva. “Our company will try to solve the problem.”
The 44,500-capacity Arena Amazonia is structurally 98 per cent complete, according to the Brazilians, and there was no evidence this week of the kind of chaotic scenes witnessed last December, when there seemed to be a desperation to finish the stadium. The frenetic construction process has been overshadowed by the deaths of three workers last year. A court ordered the suspension of work on the roof of the basket-shaped stadium in December after one of them fell 35 metres to his death.
The damage caused by fertiliser to the pitch
Construction work is yet to begin on an adjacent restaurant building, in which the BBC is understood to have secured studio space with the illuminated stadium exterior in the background. A heap of excavated rubble marks the spot where the restaurant will stand.
The complexities of the project lie in Manaus’ need to ship in a lot of materials and look for external expertise. The acidic sandy soil makes the cultivation of grass difficult, which is why fertiliser was needed for the stadium’s Bermuda grass seed, which is considered most appropriate for the region’s climate.
The importation of steel stadium frames from Portugal, scheduled for 2011, had taken until 2013, according to Silva, while the sophisticated outer membrane made in Germany and designed to reduce the heat on players had also been delayed.
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo could return against Manchester United - but it won't be like previous reunions
Calum Chambers joins Arsenal: New £16m signing put through Arsenal initiation as he sings The Kooks in front of team-mates
Manchester United transfer news: Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Thomas Vermaelen on radar as Louis van Gaal reveals he still wants to sign defender
Seydou Keita refuses Pepe handshake before throwing water bottle prior to Roma vs Real Madrid match
New Liverpool signing Dejan Lovren forced to train with the under-21s after US visa mix-up
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'