Pep Guardiola has launched a scathing attack on the organisers of the International Champions Cup by condemning the “unacceptable” pitch that led to cancellation of Manchester City’s eagerly anticipated Derby clash against Manchester United in Beijing on Monday.
And the City manager has told the ICC they need to learn important lessons from the farcical events after accusing the organisers of hiding behind torrential rain in the Chinese capital as an excuse for the game not going ahead.
The match was cancelled 5½ hours before kick-off, leaving 50,000 fans who had paid up to £300 for tickets, many of whom had travelled long distances to come to watch, furious, after the pitch at the Bird’s Nest stadium was ruled unplayable and a safety hazard.
Heavy downpours had exacerbated an underlying fungus problemwhich resulted in the large sections of the turf having to be re-laid and turning the surface into a giant patchwork quilt and Guardiola complained that the ICC had been more bothered about the calibre of hotels the squads were staying in than focusing on the quality of the pitch.
“The pitch was unacceptable,” Guardiola said ahead of City’s ICC game against Borussia Dortmund in Shenzhen tomorrow, which is expected to go ahead as planned. “We don’t travel all the way to China just for holidays or a training session.
“We came to play two friendly games so I think it was the first time a game has been cancelled here.
“They are looking for hotels, inviting players, but at the end, if the pitch is not good enough, all that doesn’t matter.
“For them, the pitch doesn’t matter, but for us it’s the most important thing. Maybe it was a lesson for the people who organise it.
“All the players and the coaches want to play as well as they can. Maybe there was a concert on the pitch 10 or 15 days before. Our groundsman was there for 10 days to try to take care of the pitch.”
Guardiola claimed that, aside from the risk of injury to players, the overriding issue was that playing on such a pitch would have left supporters short-changed because it was impossible to play quality “It wasn’t the water, it wasn’t the rain. It was just the state of the pitch. We have played in really bad conditions in our careers, but that pitch two days ago was impossible to play on.
“It wasn’t just about avoiding injury for the players, it was about the fans. They buy tickets to watch players of quality from City and United.
“But if we had played on that pitch, the fans would have said ‘What is that game?’ because it was unacceptable.
“The pitch [turf] would have moved two metres. Believe me, it was the right decision not to play on it.”
Despite the shambles, United and City have both reiterated their commitment to touring China again in the future
football on it.