World football’s governing body FIFA was forced to shift the Under-17 World Cup semi-final between Brazil and England out of Guwahatis Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium despite doing everything it could, including flying in a helicopter to make the ground playable following 48 hours of continuous rainfall, a top official said here on Thursday.
“A series of unfortunate events due to 48 hours of continuous rainfall forced us to shift the game. We did everything we could,” tournament director for the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Javier Ceppi told mediapersons here.
Wednesday’s marquee clash was moved to Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan on two days’ notice. England defeated Brazil 3-1 before nearly 64,000 spectators to make it to the final.
“We had even got a helicopter to dry the ground. But the damage was so much that it was impossible to play. Moreover time was also short. We didn’t have seven days to get the ground ready (after the rainfall). The condition was such that a game couldn’t be played in three days,” Ceppi said.
Ceppi said no ground would have been able to withstand the heavy showers that went on for two days.
“It rained 48 hours. Not ground would be able to sustain that,” he said.
He said there was nothing wrong with the drainage system and the construction was as per standard. “It is a clay based ground, and there is a 150 mm of sand base, which is as per requirement,” he clarified.
Ceppi also pointed out that the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium pitch has been adjudged the best in the Indian Super League for two years running.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel said such things could have happened anywhere in the world, even in the World Cup.
“It is the force of nature, force majeure. Such things can happen anywhere in the world, even the main World Cup” he said.