Polish officials scramble to explain roof fiasco

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) -Officials in Poland scrambled Wednesday to explain why they failed to close the stadium roof and prevent the country's World Cup qualifier with England being postponed by a waterlogged pitch.

The match was rescheduled for Wednesday.

Heavy rain on Tuesday left pools of water on the field at the 1.8 billion zloty ($600 million) National Stadium, built for this year's European Championship. The stadium, with a capacity of 58,000, has a retractable roof, but it was left open Tuesday despite intensifying rainfall.

On Wednesday, the Polish Football Association and the National Sports Center, which runs the stadium, were trying to avoid taking the blame.

According to stadium managers, the Polish FA said that neither team, nor the FIFA representative or referee, wanted the roof closed, despite the bad weather. FIFA requires matches to be held under natural conditions, the same as during training.

They said the roof cannot be closed while it rains, which was the case for most of the day Tuesday. They also denied that the recently-fitted grass was of poor quality and unable to absorb the rain. They maintained the drainage was sufficient and worked properly after the roof was closed when the rain stopped.

"(The) FIFA match commissioner decided at 8 p.m. to close the roof," but the stadium managers said it was not possible due to the heavy rain, the association said. The FA apologized to the fans for the inconvenience.

The FA plans to seek damages from the stadium's owner, the Sports Ministry, which it blames for failing to properly prepare the pitch.

The roof remained open under sunny weather for part of Wednesday but was then closed three hours before kickoff.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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