South American football body CONMEBOL said on Saturday that it was upgrading the Maracana Stadium for the Copa America final amid criticism of other playing fields in the tournament. The decision will be made on July 10.
Weeks ago, after Brazil hosted the Copa America at the last minute, organizers scheduled seven games for the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio precisely because the Maracana pitch was worn out. But criticism has only grown since the start of the tournament.
Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, which will host another group stage match, is also targeting irregular areas and sinking areas.
Brazil coach Tite recently joined Neymar, Lionel Messi and others who attacked the organization for the poor terrain of Nilton Santos, who was used for athletics at the 2016 Olympics and is regularly used by local club Botafogo, who is currently play in the second side division.
After a 2-1 win over Colombia on Thursday, Tite said the pitch was “unacceptable”. CONMEBOL fined him $ 5,000 the next day for criticizing the organization of the tournament, which was transferred to Brazil after Colombia and Argentina withdrew from the home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, Tite again raised doubts about Maracana’s pitch for the decisive one.
“If I talk about the bad pitch (of Nilton Santos), I will be fined,” Tite told a news conference before Sunday’s Group B match against Ecuador in Goiania. “It simply came to our notice then. Maracana will not be good until the end. Time is too short (to improve). You can write this. “
Hours after the press conference, Tite CONMEBOL posted a video showing the improvements he is making to half of Maracana’s pitch.
Agronomist Maristela Kuhn said the goal of the football body was “good results in very few days”. “It’s great because the pitch will only be used for one match (Copa America). And all this service remains for the clubs (Maracana game), “she said.
After Brazil’s 4-0 victory over Peru on June 17, Neymar went on Instagram and said: “Celebrate yesterday’s goal on Engenhao’s ‘beautiful’ pitch.” “Please fix the pitch,” he added.
Peru’s goalkeeper Pedro Galese agreed. “The terrain was in terrible conditions. You couldn’t hit the door. The ball is sinking, he said.
Three days earlier, Messi said that “the pitch did not help much” after Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Chile at the same stadium. His coach Lionel Scaloni was even tougher: “This is a field for another sport, not to play football.” No major improvements have been made since then.
Brazilian media reported on Saturday that the country’s football federation was trying to persuade CONMEBOL to move its match from the quarterfinals to Arena Pantanal – Selecao is already at the top of Group B, with one match in hand.
The 2019 Copa America edition, which also took place in Brazil, also had problems with the pitch, especially at the Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre.