Do you trust a Serbian snow plough?

Apparently, they can’t clear snow in Belgrade. The Spanish referee decided that Javier Clemente’s team will play today, if it’s possible, and if it isn’t possible ‘for reasons beyond control’, it will be played next Saturday. If they do get to play next Saturday, they will be at a huge advantage – knowing exactly what they need to do to go through, if it is still possible. And they can only go through if Finland win in Portugal.

It’s a bit rum, this. If Finland can play in the freezing snowscapes of Uusimaa, why can’t the Serbs clear their pitch in time? And what happens if they haven’t made the required efforts to clear the pitch? Indeed, why is that left to someone who shares a nationality with their coach?

There’s an excellent report from William Moore at Helsingin Sanomat, and something from YLE here.

And a rather grainy highlights film from AZTV:

UPDATE: The Serbia match is called off, again. This really, really makes things tough for Finland. I’m curious as to why they couldn’t play the game, surely undersoil heating is standard for UEFA matches? According to the BBC it’s now above freezing in Belgrade, and the game was called off a good four hours before the planned kick-off today. Have they really made every effort to get the game played, when it’s much much better for their chances to play it next Saturday?


7 Responses

  1. Looks like they didn’t even try to clear the pitch..

    I remember similar incidents before CL matches in Kiev and Moscow.. In those cases a hundred or so men with shovels were hurried to the blizzard-stricken stadium and they quickly cleared the pitch from snow.

    Now the scheming Serbs have a clear advantage, they can rest for the game against Poland and field a fresh side.

  2. That’s shocking, although I’m guessing it’s from last night. Not much they could have done if it was a sudden storm in freezing weather, but with four hours to go and rising temperatures today, a postponement is unforgivable.

    I hope Finland complain.

  3. Our beloved chairman, the esteemed Sir Pekka Hämäläinen was quick to dismiss that option.

  4. I trust you’re not suggesting some sort of corruption is at play?!! surely not….

  5. I reckon Hämeläinen is timid rather than crooked, but still. Maybe it’s better to just concentrate on the task at hand, as there isn’t much you can do if the UEFA delegates and referee agree. Also, he’d look a bit stupid if he complained and then Finland got gubbed in Portugal, so maybe it’s better to hope the Serbs fuck it up of their own accord.

  6. It’s not quite the advantage for Serbia that you think. The game will fall outside the FIFA release period, so for example, Manchester United can recall Nemanja Vidic for their game against Bolton on the same day.

  7. I don’t think the Serbs will have any problem rolling over Kazakhstan, most of whom probably thought they’d be lying on a beach somewhere by the 24th of November. It will be interesting to see what happens if Finland win, as the Serbs almost certainly aren’t expecting that to happen.

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