Now, Kolkata will host FIFA U-17 semis too
Kolkata: The FIFA U-17 World Cup encounter between Brazil and England has been rescheduled from Guwahati's Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium to Kolkata's Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan due to pitch concerns. The game will now take place in Kolkata on October 25 at 5 pm.
"England said they didn't have a problem, but Brazil weren't willing to play in this pitch. Efforts were made to improve the condition, but the match has now been shifted. The teams will leave Guwahati today (Monday) evening itself," Assam Football Association president Hemendra Nath Brahma was quoted in a report.
FIFA and Assam government officials held a meeting on Monday afternoon to decide on the possibility of Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium hosting the semi-final on Wednesday. But they left it to the two teams — Brazil and England — to take a call.
According to officials, Brazil declined to play on the soggy field, which had taken a beating after the Ghana-Mali quarter-final match on October 21 that was played in rain. Mali had adapted to the conditions but Ghana later lodged a complaint about the field.
Ghana coach Paa Kwesi Fabin was not impressed by the ground conditions and in the post-match press conference, he said: "We've not encountered anything like this before. I thought the game should have been abandoned and played at some another time but those who are organising said we have to play so we played."
To make matters worse, the drainage system of the field was clogged leading to water-logging affecting more than 30 percent of the field. FIFA officials led by tournament director Javier Ceppi tried to find a way out, but it was all in vain.
"It is shining, and rain is unlikely now. We have two more days to go to make the field ready," Sanjib Gohain Baruah, secretary of the sports department said earlier in the day.
"Everyone tried their best but nature reigned. After four days of continuous rain, the soil became soft. The two teams arrived in the morning but are leaving for Kolkata tonight (Monday)," Anand Prakash Tiwari, a key member of the World Cup organising committee said.
Whatever hopes the officials had of conducting the match evaporated after forecast of rain from the meteorologists. The weathermen underlined the possibility of rain on Tuesday night and 60 percent precipitation on Wednesday morning, the scheduled day of the semi-final.
In Kolkata, the police have made all the necessary arrangements to ensure that no untoward incident takes place during the high voltage match.
Like all other matches of the Under-17 World Cup that were held in the city, the police will be deploying additional personnel so that spectators do not face any inconvenience. Though chances are very less, the police will be intensifying their vigil apprehending chaos breaking out over tickets.
According to a communiqué, FIFA authorities said: "Fans with a valid ticket for the semi-final originally planned to take place in Guwahati will be able to request a refund for the purchase value of their tickets, and also will have priority access to purchase tickets for the semi-final in Kolkata. Further details on the refund procedure are available on FIFA.com. Tickets for the rescheduled semi-final match in Kolkata can only be purchased online on the ticketing section of FIFA.com (http://tickets.india2017wc.com/) as of today 23 October, 20:30. All purchasable tickets for this FIFA U-17 World Cup semi-final fixture in Kolkata will be priced at INR 100 and will be made available on a first come first served basis."
According to the state Transport department, adequate transport facilities will be made available.