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World Cup Grass Gives Wembley A Run For It’s Money

By Tom Doerr

Fabio Capello arrived with his dream team a few days before the world cup was due to kick off, he was greeted by a phone call from Prime Minister David Cameron and the pleasant sight of the pitch laid for England’s first game. He claimed the pitch, at Royal Bafokeng Stadium was vastly superior to Wembley.

The 42,000 seat stadium was to stage the clash of England vs. USA in the battle for the group C winners; a match that would put the ‘special relationship’ under pressure. Capello and his squad were greeted by King Kgosi Leruo of the Bafokeng Tribe upon their arrival to their campus close to the stadium.

Wembley would also be put to shame by the dressing rooms at Bafokeng, with a luxury changing cabin for each player. Before stepping out onto the pitch, the squads will travel down a glass corridor facing each other before joining at the top of a stairwell then down onto the pitch. The stadium doubles as an athletics ground so a large running track separates the fans from the pitch.

The stadium’s groundskeepers have been preparing the pitch in the run up to the competition. The stadium was constructed in 1999 and revamped for last year’s Confederations Cup but the pitch is entirely new. Although it does not have the grandeur of Johannesburg’s Soccer City, Royal Bafokeng Stadium has a distinct charm and is well renowned for its pitch. The grass was grown by a South African supplier specifically for the competition. Capello claims the pitch is ideal as provides the perfect amount of bounce, friction and texture, a vast contrast to his disappointment in the official world cup ball.

Not all of South Africa’s pitches have received the same praise; Algeria’s Majid Bougherra expressed his dissatisfaction with the quality of the pitch at the Polokwane stadium, and claimed it was the cause of their 1-0 defeat by Slovenia. The Rangers defender claimed that the pitch, which is a mix of grass and synthetic turf altered the bounce of the ball which itself was unpredictable. He claimed that although it was fine for players, it was impossible for the goalkeeper to get used to. Despite the controversy, every team is using the same facilities and no one has an advantage of any other. Although some teams may dispute conditions, they are, for lack of a better pun, on a level playing field.

The groundskeepers explained that although they had issues with lawn weeds due to the changing temperature, a mix of weed killers and enhanced lawn feed rescued the pitch in time for the World Cup.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Doerr, Tom "World Cup Grass Gives Wembley A Run For It’s Money." World Cup Grass Gives Wembley A Run For It’s Money. 22 Jun. 2010. 30 Oct 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Doerr, T (2010, June 22). World Cup Grass Gives Wembley A Run For It’s Money. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Doerr, Tom "World Cup Grass Gives Wembley A Run For It’s Money"

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