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Rain delays England-Poland match despite retractable roof

17th October 2012
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"Neither side agreed" to closing the roof, association officials say

The field was soaked by rain at game time Tuesday.
East News

Though Poland's shiny new National Stadium boasts a roof that can be closed in case of poor weather, Tuesday night's game between Poland and England was postponed because of rain. The roof was never closed prior to the match, leaving the fields soggy and waterlogged, and impossible to play on.

Both teams – as well as fans and commentators – voiced their frustration, but there was little that could be done. The pitch resembled a swamp. Local Polish newspapers Wednesday morning dubbed the National Stadium the “National Swimming Pool” after the fiasco.

According to representatives from PZPN, the Polish soccer association, neither team, nor officials from FIFA, world soccer's governing body, agreed to closing the roof before the game, which was due to begin at 9 pm Tuesday evening. This despite the fact that it had been raining all day in Warsaw and that there were no forecasts that it would clear up.

“None of the sides wanted such a solution [to close the roof],” said Agnieszka Olejkowska, a PZPN representative. “We knew there would be heavy rain but we could not 100 percent predict the downpour.”

But as reporters pressed for more answers, it became less clear whether the sides were ever consulted.

A spokeswoman for the National Sports Centre, which owns the stadium, said, “We’re not able to make the decision to close the roof without the presence of the FIFA match delegate. He did not arrive until 7 pm, by which time it was raining.”

By most accounts, however, if the roof had been closed at that time, the game still may have been playable. But stadium officials say that in adverse weather conditions – when there are high winds, freezing temperatures, or rain – it is too dangerous to close the roof. The roof can only be closed safely once the rain stops.

The roof was finally closed around midnight last night, and the field began draining. It is understood that the roof will be open again for today's match – weather permitting.

It is as yet unclear whether fans will be allowed into today's game however, as Warsaw city officials scramble to staff police, security, and emergency medical services for the match.

From Warsaw Business Journal by Andrew Kureth

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