Manchester United’s pre-season clash with Manchester City in China has been cancelled after torrential rain made the surface at the Bird’s Nest stadium.
The International Champions Cup match was due to be played on Monday but was called off six hours before the game over fears of players’ safety – both clubs agreed to cancel.
An ICC statement said: “The cancellation was made in the interest of player safety and comes following extreme weather events in Beijing over a multiple day period, that have left the playing surface in a condition deemed to be unfit for play.”
The build-up to the game was also shrouded in controversy: there were concerns over the bad pitch due to the fungus on the surface, while a group of United players on board a plane had to be diverted 70 miles away from their original destination because of the poor weather.
Both Jose Mourinho and City boss Pep Guardiola were worried about injuries to their players too.
Mourinho said: “My only objective is to take the players home safe and without injury. These are no conditions to play a good game of football.”
United chief executive Ed Woodward said: “It’s extremely disappointing not to be able to play the game in this amazing stadium but the recent torrential rain would have caused problems anywhere in the world and has left the pitch unplayable.
“We know our fans in China will, like the players and staff, be saddened by the cancellation of the match but I am sure they appreciate that the player safety has to be the top priority.
“I am sure we will return to the Bird’s Nest in the future to give them the chance to see the team in action.”
Meanwhile, City chief executive Ferran Sorriano said: “We are very disappointed not to be able to play for our supporters here in Beijing. The players have been working hard in training to prepare for an exciting derby.
“We know how much everyone was looking forward to the game, but we understand that this bad weather is beyond anyone’s control, and that the rain has made it totally unsafe to play on this pitch.
“It has been a pleasure and an honour to experience such a warm welcome from the people and supporters here in Beijing, and we remain committed to playing here in the future.”