New Delhi : The FIFA Under-17 World Cup semifinal between Brazil and England was on Monday shifted from Guwahati to Kolkata due to poor pitch conditions in the North-Eastern city, a development which will cause inconvenience to the two teams.
The match, which was to be played at the Indira Gandhi stadium at the Assam capital, will be held as scheduled on October 25 but at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. “Following a thorough assessment of the pitch conditions at Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, which has been affected by severe rainfall over the past few days, FIFA has decided to move the venue of the semi-final between England and Brazil to Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, where the match will kick off at 17:00hrs,” the FIFA said in a statement.
The change of venue will cause some inconvenience to the English and Brazillian teams as they had already landed in Guwahati. The two teams were also scheduled to have training sessions in Guwahati on Monday evening. The pitch at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium was severely affected during the quarterfinal match between Ghana and Mali on Saturday which was played under incessant rain. The Assam capital has been experiencing rain for the last four days, though it relented a bit on Monday.
Rain stopped after light showers in the morning but the ground has been significantly damaged. Ghana coach Samuel Fabian had said that the match should have been postponed and played on another date after his side lost to Mali 1-2. “Despite the great efforts by all involved parties, including the authorities of Guwahati, to preserve the pitch, FIFA has taken this decision following consultations with both teams in order to safeguard the players’ health and to ensure the best playing conditions,” the FIFA added. The second semi-final on October 25, between Mali and Spain, will still kick off as planned at 2000hrs at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Fans with a valid ticket for the semi-final originally planned to take place in Guwahati will be entitled for a refund. All purchasable tickets for the rescheduled game in Kolkata will be priced at Rs 100 and made available on a first-come-first-served basis. The original Guwahati ticket-holders would be required to carry online proof of purchase to the dedicated ticket counter for Guwahati customers, should they travel to Kolkata. These tickets have also been priced at Rs 100.
FIFA and the Local Organising Committee said it regretted that the match had to be shifted out of Guwahati.
“FIFA and the LOC regret that unforeseen circumstances have led to this decision, which will deprive football fans in Guwahati of this semi-final encounter. Both FIFA and the LOC would like to sincerely thank the city of Guwahati and the state government of Assam for their excellent cooperation throughout the competition.”