Maracana Pitch Not Fit to Host World Cup Final, Claims Jefferson
Brazil and Botafogo goalkeeper Jefferson has blasted the condition of the pitch at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where the World Cup final will be held next summer.
Botafogo's 2-2 draw with local rivals Vasco da Gama was played at the world-famous venue on Sunday evening, but the players were left less than impressed with the poor state of the playing surface for the encounter.
Per Xinhua's Michael Place, Jefferson told reporters post-match:
We can't play on a pitch like that. It was especially bad in the six-yard box.
The people who look after the pitch need to review what they are doing.The Maracana deserves better.
The Maracana, worryingly, is not the first of the World Cup stadiums to have its pitch criticised. Place reports that David Luiz had complained of the conditions at the Mane Garrincha stadium ahead of Brazil's clash with Australia last month.
In general, pitch conditions for games in the Brazilian championship are far from ideal and certainly are far from the standards set at the top level of the game in Europe.
However, with the new stadiums for the World Cup bringing about better conditions in the stands, it was anticipated that pitches would also be kept to standards expected at FIFA's showpiece event.
Thus far, it would seem, that has not been happening.
On a positive note, the issue has been raised by Jefferson and Luiz well in advance of next summer's tournament and stadium staff will have plenty of time to rectify the issues.
All grounds are required to be handed over fully to FIFA in advance of the tournament, meaning that use of the pitch will be moderated. While it is little excuse for the poor condition, it is worth noting that the Maracana has hosted five games in the Brasileirao over the past week alone.
Such intense usage, with three of Rio de Janeiro's four big sides hosting games at the ground, is unlikely to help conditions.
The city's other major stadium—the Engenhao—is currently out of action, per Sambafoot, so the number of matches at the ground is unlikely to drop anytime soon.
Jefferson's reaction will be embarrassing to the Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) and the World Cup organising committee but should help ensure that the pitch is not an issue come next year's tournament.
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