Get stadium ready or miss Messi magic, says minister

Kolkata, May 25 (IANS) Unless the Salt Lake Stadium is revamped on a war footing, the city might miss the opportunity to watch Lionel Messi and the Argentine national football team in action Sep 2, West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra Wednesday said.

He said the condition of the Salt Lake Stadium was 'terrible'.

The Argentine team is scheduled to take on another Latin American team, Venezuela, in a friendly match here sep 2.

Regretting the 'poor infrastructure' and 'terrible condition' of the Salt Lake Stadium and other such grounds, Mitra said: 'Unless we work on a war footing, the city will miss out on seeing Messi in action. On July 1, they are coming for inspection.'

'I have inspected the Salt Lake Stadium and some other grounds, The condition of the stadia are terrible... full of bushes, I didn't know whether to invite players or call snake charmers to get rid of the snakes that crawled all over,' he said.

The minister who reached 80 minutes late for the meet-the-press event, said: 'The condition of the grounds has further deteriorated as the earlier government rented them out for marriages and other occasions. They are worse than village playgrounds.'

Months back, an agreement was signed for bringing the star-studded Argentina team to Kolkata by the Celebrity Management Group (CMG).

'The match has to be held on Sep 2. This date has been decided by FIFA,' Bhaswar Goswami of CMG told IANS.

The Argentines will also play Nigeria Sept 6 in Dhaka.