Football: State of St Petersburg pitch coming under scrutiny ahead of 2018 World Cup

A view of the illuminated 'Saint-Petersburg' stadium during a light show at the Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg, Russia on April 22, 2017.
A view of the illuminated 'Saint-Petersburg' stadium during a light show at the Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg, Russia on April 22, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

Moscow (AFP) - Fears are growing over the state of the pitch at St Petersburg's new purpose-built World Cup stadium after it cut up badly during the first match played on it.

Television pictures of Saturday's match between Zenit St Petersburg and Ural Yekaterinburg showed uprooted pieces of turf and bald spots.

It is a major worry just two months ahead of the Confederations Cup where the St Petersburg stadium is due to host four matches in two weeks, including the July 2 final.

It was the latest chapter in a decade-long saga of spiralling bills, missed deadlines and scandals that has marred construction of the arena, which is also set to host seven games during the 2018 World Cup.

Zenit manager Mircea Lucescu, who had expressed his concerns ahead of the match, said the state of the pitch had been "not very good" and affected his team's play.

However, Alexei Sorokin, head of the 2018 World Cup organising committee, dismissed the fears saying that the pitch would be in adequate condition for the Confederations Cup kick-off.

"Of course there are many pitches of much better quality," TASS agency quoted Sorokin as saying.

"But the experts said the pitch here needs some time to firm up. The grass is too young so far, but in every new game here, its condition will become better and better."