Huge fire erupts at Andorra’s national stadium just over 24 hours before England are due to play there in a World Cup qualifier, with VAR screen appearing to burst into flames during a live TV report
- Flames engulfed the broadcast gantry on the side of the Estadi Nacional pitch
- Black smoke then made its way towards residential apartments around ground
- England had trained on the artificial surface just hours before fire broke out
- Three Lions are set to face Andorra in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday night
A fire has broken out in dramatic scenes at Andorra’s Estadi Nacional just a day before they are due to play England there in a World Cup qualifier.
The television gantry just above the two dugouts on one side of the pitch, erected ahead of Saturday night’s match, was seen engulfed in flames during a live television report from Sky Sports just after 3pm BST.
The fire broke out just as Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorset was giving an update from the artificial pitch Andorra, with black billowing smoke then making its way towards residential apartments and flats surrounding the 3,000 capacity stadium.
A fire has broken out in dramatic scenes at the Estadi Nacional in the capital of Andorra
It comes just a day before England are due to face them in a World Cup qualifier
The gantry erected ahead of Saturday night’s match was seen in flames during a TV report
Emergency services later arrived on the scene in the country’s capital of Andorra La Vella to successfully extinguish the fire – the cause of which remains unclear at this stage – reportedly with the use of sprinklers.
The Telegraph report there are no reports of injuries, but that there were initial concerns that heat from the blaze may melt part of the plastic playing surface.
The outlet’s reporter Mike McGrath also posted a picture showing how managers’ technical area was damaged and the dugout ‘melted’ on one side from the fire.
Black billowing smoke then made its way towards surrounding residential apartments and flat
Emergency services soon arrived on the scene to put out the fire to the relief of all involved
A VAR monitor was seen burnt after being part of the equipment ruined during the blaze
Images also showed that a VAR monitor had been caught up in the blaze and was among the equipment ruined during the fire. But again it remains unclear if it will be in operation on Saturday.
Southgate’s men had trained on the 3G hybrid surface on Friday morning, with The Athletic reporting they left the stadium just an hour before the fire broke out.
The same outlet however also claims the travelling squad have been told there is no threat to Saturday’s qualifier.
The Three Lions are bidding to make it six wins out of seven in their Group I World Cup qualifying campaign when they return to action on Saturday evening, having conceded a late equaliser against Poland last time out.
Gareth Southgate’s men had a training session on the artificial pitch just hours beforehand
The Estadi Nacional in Andorra was opened just seven years ago and is also used for the nation’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 at the ground in the September after it was formally opened, with a late Gareth Bale free-kick denying the hosts a 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 overly complimentary of the pitch, with difficulties with controlling the ball clear for all to see.
‘It was by far the worst pitch I have ever played on,’ said Bale. ‘I can’t describe how bad, bobbly and hard the pitch was to deal with.
Gareth Southgate’s men are looking to make it six wins out of seven in Group I qualifying
Emergency services are shown putting out the fire on the side of the pitch above the dugout
‘We said at the start that the most important thing was to get three points. Other teams are going to find it difficult coming here so for us to get three points is important.’
Average attendances before Euro 2020 had bordered on the 2,000 mark, with that figure significantly dropping to approximately 300 more recently due to the pandemic.
If the game goes ahead, the spectators that turn up to support the home side will be hoping to see their side avoid a sixth straight defeat against England.
They have not scored against the Three Lions in all of the previous five matches, the latest of which was the 4-0 defeat at Wembley last month in which Jesse Lingard netted twice.
And should England repeat the trick on Saturday, they will at most be six points away from guaranteeing qualification for next year’s World Cup in Qatar, with three games of the qualifying group remaining.
Gareth Bale described the pitch as the worst he had played on after a game in September 2014