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England, Italy could have a pitch of a time

Jun 11, 2014, 6:59 AM EDT

Italia AP

Brazil spent nearly $300m building the Arena da Amazônia, a stadium with a capacity to seat more than 40,000, situated deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.  The stadium is beautiful, a steel structure designed to reflect the tropical heat, and designed to resemble a traditional basket.

But if you take a peek inside, much of that beauty disappears. On Monday, photos emerged showing the arena’s field. With the first World Cup match scheduled for Saturday, June 14, you’d expect a lush, glowing cover of green grass, sparkling invitingly in the sunshine.

Instead the pitch is reminiscent of a field in December. On which a three-day tournament has just been held. After scraping off the snow with shovels. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the photos show a patchwork of green and brown, a dusty landscape with yellow lines across the field.

Certain sections look better than others, but all in all, it’s not a place you’d want your team to be launching their bid to lift the World Cup trophy. Yet that’s exactly what England and Italy must do. Their kickoff in Manaus is slated for 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, leaving officials with little time to revive the pitch.

In such short tournaments, almost every variable can play a role, from kickoff time to humidity levels to the amount of time passed since the grass was last watered. Players and coaches know this. But that won’t make it any less heartbreaking should yet another player injure himself, while attempting to run on a dry, rutted surface.

  1. cherry314 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    I wonder how the seemingly crappy field is going to affect the US/Portugal game.

    • lorenzo463 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      If there is one thing CONCACAF qualifiers prepare you for, it’s playing on crap fields in the middle of the jungle. That on its own isn’t enough to win the game for the USA, but it can’t hurt, right?

  2. fantom21 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Anytime there is a bad pitch: slow field( grass too thick), uneven field, wet and muddy, slippery, it always benefits the weaker team because it negates the technical ability of the stronger side. So the US should look forward to playing on this pitch.

  3. mvktr2 - Jun 11, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Further evidence of fifa’s committment to ‘betterment of the world’ via it’s world cup selections mandating unneeded stadia be hastily built at inflated prices to the benefit of a select few politically connected corporatist and at the expense of the rest.

    A new model is needed! The WC should be played in multiple countries with existing facilities or willing to build one or two stadiums … tops. The group stages could be hosted in 4-8 countries the semi-qtrs-finals in another 2 countries. All developed nations have 2-4 stadiums that would be fitting of such an approach. It’s really not a hard problem to solve!

    • lorenzo463 - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      I think what you are describing is the Champion’s League. And I’m not trying to make fun of your point- I honestly think that the Champion’s League is likely to surpass the World Cup as THE Association Football event, if it hasn’t already. This World Cup is being played by teams of players on empty tanks or fighting through injuries, and the next two are on their way to resembling that Nike advertisement from 2002 where the spooky billionaire kidnapped the best players in the world for a three-on-three tournament in a cage. I personally believe that the World Cup should not be played in Europe every time, but FIFA needs to take a look at where it is headed if it wants the World Cup to still be important in another 80 years.

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