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St. Petersburg stadium pitch undergoing repair ahead of Confederations Cup final

The pitch at Russia’s St. Petersburg stadium is undergoing emergency repair work prior to hosting this Sunday’s Confederations Cup final, Fifa said.

The 68,000-capacity stadium underwent a hasty turf re-laying job back in April following its inaugural match.

In addition, prior to issues with the grass in April, the venue’s retractable pitch technology caused the playing surface to vibrate, deeming it unfit to play on.

Colin Smith, director of competitions for Fifa, said that the stadium’s “young pitch” had sustained damage from matches, as well as from warm-up sessions.

“We did significant top dressing last night,” Smith said at a news conference on Monday. “Tomorrow we will fully cover the pitch and really regulate the temperature and the growing conditions in there. We’re confident that it will be a good playing surface for the final.”

Greenhouse structures have also been added over the pitch’s weaker areas, as well as grow lights that have been permanently set up to assist with the conditions of the turf, Smith said.

He highlighted that the rainy weather conditions had “not helped the growth of the problem areas” on the pitch.

Smith said that there was room for improvement ahead of the knock-out stage of the Confederations Cup, which begins today (Wednesday). He added that the group stage had been a great success on the operational level.

“Very importantly, these improvements will also serve as very valuable lessons looking ahead to next year’s Fifa World Cup,” he said.

Following Portugal’s win over New Zealand in St. Petersburg on Saturday, captain Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Fernando Santos both complained about the condition of the pitch.

Ronaldo said the grass was too long, while Santos said the teams were not allowed to train in the days leading up to the game.

Image: Zac Allan