- Flames engulf the broadcast gantry on the side of the Estadi National pitch
- Black smoke then made its way to the residential apartments surrounding the ground
- England had trained on an artificial surface hours before the fire
- The Three Lions are set to face Andorra on Saturday night in a World Cup qualifier
A day before England play England in a World Cup qualifier, dramatic scenes caught fire at the Estadi Nacional in Andorra.
Ahead of Saturday night’s match, the television gantry just above two dugouts on one side of the pitch was seen engulfed in flames just after 3 p.m. BST during a live televised report from Sky Sports.
The fire broke out just as Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorsett was giving an update from the artificial pitch Andorra, with black billowing smoke making its way toward residential apartments and flats surrounding the 3,000-capacity stadium.
Theatrical scenes at the Estadi Nacional in Andorra’s capital have caught fire
It comes a day before England are scheduled to face them in a World Cup qualifier
The gantry erected before Saturday night’s match was seen in flames during a TV report
Emergency services later arrived in the country’s capital, Andorra la Vella, to successfully extinguish the fire – the cause of which is unclear at this stage – with the use of hoses and reportedly sprinklers as well.
The Telegraph reports no one was injured, but there were initial concerns that the heat from the fire could melt part of the plastic surface.
Outlet reporter Mike McGrath also posted a photo showing how the managers’ technical area was damaged and a side dugout ‘melted’ by the fire.
The black colored smoke then moved towards the adjoining residential apartments and flats.
Emergency services rushed to the spot to douse the fire, so that all those involved could get relief.
A VAR monitor was seen burning after it was part of the equipment destroyed during the fire
The images also showed that a VAR monitor was caught in the fire and was one of the equipment ruined during the fire. But again it is unclear whether the technology will be operational on Saturday.
The men of Southgate trained on a 3G hybrid surface on Friday morning, with the athletic reporting they had left the stadium just an hour before the fire broke out.
The same outlet however also claims that the travel squad has been told there is no threat for Saturday’s qualifiers in the Pyrenees.
The Three Lions are bidding to make six of seven victories in their Group I World Cup qualifying campaign when they return to action on Saturday evening, last after a late draw against Poland.
Gareth Southgate’s men had a training session on an artificial pitch a few hours earlier
But their draw in Warsaw still sits them four points ahead of Albania as group leaders, with Andorra second, having only beaten San Marino in qualifying.
The Estadi Nacional in Andorra opened just seven years ago and is also used for the country’s rugby union games.
With an official capacity of 3,306, the record attendance at the ground was for a World Cup qualifier in 2017, when Cristiano Ronaldo and Andre Silva were on target for Portugal in a 2–0 win against Andorra.
But it was Wales who won the first official match on the ground in September since it was formally opened, with a late Gareth Bale free-kick denying the hosts the first competitive point for nine years at the time.
But speaking after the game more than seven years ago, the current Real Madrid star was not praising the pitch excessively, with difficulties controlling the ball clear for all to see.
“It was the worst pitch I’ve ever played on,” Bell said. ‘I can’t describe how bad, bubbly and tough the pitch was.
Gareth Southgate’s men look to register six out of seven wins in Group I qualifying
“We said in the beginning that the most important thing was to get three points. It will be difficult for other teams to come here so it is important for us to get three points.
Southgate however said earlier this week: ‘The first thing a lot of those interviews have been relayed since Wales played here, it’s a more up-to-date surface,’ he said.
“We have played on some tough grass pitches where the teams have kept the length of the grass long and we have not been able to move the ball quickly enough. For us to have a surface where you know the ball can move fast is a good thing.
“All the players have grown up in academia and are playing on these pitches at a young age. We played one on one in Lithuania. We have to adapt, the game can be a little different, the risk is that you can always end up playing with the feet, that’s an observation I’ve seen on these types of surfaces.
‘We have to make sure we play our normal game as much as possible.’
Emergency services are shown putting out the fire on the side of the pitch above the dugout
Before Euro 2020 the average attendance was at the 2,000 mark, a figure that has recently risen to over 300 due to the pandemic.
If the game goes ahead, spectators coming to support the home side will be hoping that their side will survive their sixth consecutive defeat against England.
He has not scored in all five matches against the Three Lions, the latest of which was a 4-0 loss at Wembley last month in which Jesse Lingard netted twice.
And if England repeat the move on Saturday, they will be six points from guaranteed qualification for next year’s World Cup in Qatar, with three games remaining from the qualifying group.
Gareth Bale described the pitch as the worst since a match in September 2014