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Show of shame in Enugu

By Tony Edike
Who owns Greenfields? Is it rue that a top non African member of FIFA  is strongly connected to the company which was awarded the contract to lay the artificial turf at the Enugu Stadium?

Greenfields must be disappointed following the shame that they brought to Nigeria 2009 when heavy rains in Enugu today exposed the shoddy work underneath the turf. Drainage system must have been so poor that when the rains came, the state of the turf was such that water raised it from the surface, making it float. It was such a big shame.

IT was just another show of shame for Nigeria in one of the venues of the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament which the Enugu State Government had expended billions of naira for its rehabilitation. The pitch was completely flooded and matches were suspended for hours.

The match between Burkina Faso and New Zealand was at exactly 62nd minute when heavy rain commenced,  forcing spectators at the popular stand including school children who benefited from Governor Sullivan Chime’s free tickets to take cover. Almost all the spectators at that section and some within the cover stand were heavily drenched.

Although the match was stopped by Referee Howard Webb from England,  officials of FIFA who had thought the rain would stop soon to resume the match at least 30 minutes later in line with the stipulated rule, were disappointed as it continued for about 40 minutes.

But soon after the rain ceased, the officials returned to the pitch to discover to their chagrin that the entire pitch was heavily flooded. It appeared as if no drainage was constructed at all as the artificial turf rose up as if it was about being rolled away.

Members of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) quickly mobilized some people who brought in knives and other sharp blades to cut the turf open to enable them drain the water. They carried out this shameful exercise for about two hours before the pitch could be returned to a manageable level.

The Burkina  Faso and New Zealand later returned to the pitch at 7pm when the second match between Turkey and Costa Rica was billed to start. The match was 1-1 when it was halted. It also ended that way.

As the volunteers and youths hired by LOC to drain the water were sweating themselves up on the pitch, some top officials of the Enugu State government at the state box were seen grumbling and sighing over the perceived poor job done by the contractor that handled the rehabilitation project.

Although officials of FIFA maintained sealed lips over the development, it was clear that they were not happy as some of them could be seen walking up and down and hurrying the cleaners so that they could resume the match.


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