Condition of Azteca Stadium field concerns players, puts Chiefs game in Mexico City in jeopardy

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — The abused hybrid grass of Azteca Stadium is generating concerns for its poor condition a week before it hosts an NFL regular-season game between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.

On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter tweeted that some players are willing to sit out the Monday Night Football game due to the field and risk of injury.

Other reports issued Tuesday say that both the Rams and Chiefs are making contingency plans in the event the field isn’t deemed suitable for play, a final decision is expected from the NFL by the end of the day. If the game isn’t played in Mexico City, it may be played in Los Angeles at Memorial Coliseum.

Last May, Azteca Stadium authorities changed the surface from natural to hybrid. But the intense activity in the last few months has prevented the grass from reaching an optimum state.

“The field is not in the best condition and that concerns me for the next tournament,” said Cruz Azul*s coach, Pedro Caixinha. “We all know that it’s not right, that it has not been right and that it will not be all right, but those are the circumstances, and if we can help, we will do it”.

Cruz Azul and America are the local teams playing in Azteca.

“We are working closely with the field manager at Azteca Stadium and others to ensure that we have an NFL quality surface for our game,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Caixinha spoke Saturday after Cruz Azul beat Lobos in the 16th round of the Apertura tournament despite playing on a surface in bad shape, especially on the north side, where a concert took place last Wednesday.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – NOVEMBER 10: Players of Lobos BUAP warms up prior to the 16th round match between Cruz Azul and Lobos BUAP as part of Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

On Aug. 16, stadium authorities admitted that the field was not in good shape and promised to improve it shortly. By September, the hybrid grass showed progress for a match between Cruz Azul and Atlas, but it regressed in October. A couple of concerts by the Colombian singer Shakira caused damage and it has not improved since.

Arturo Olive, director of the NFL office in Mexico, said recently he was not concerned about the state of the field and that NFL personnel were working along with the groundskeepers from Azteca to get it right for the game.

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