'National Stadium pitch ready for Afcon final'

The National Stadium’s management says concerts at the venue are needed to ensure its viability.

Management at the National Stadium say the pitch is totally playable ahead of the 2013 Afcon final on Sunday. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Management of the National [FNB] Stadium responded to criticism of its maintenance of the venue by Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Mbalula expressed disbelief at the body for hosting a concert at the venue during the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers performed at the weekend for thousands of fans.

Mbalula said it was unheard of that events of that scale happened during a major tournament at the same venue.

National Stadium CEO Jacques Grobbelaar on Tuesday said the concerts were needed to ensure the viability of the stadium.

"We needed to find ways of filling this stadium up more than twice a year otherwise we would not be sustainable.

"And our business model hinges on additional content."

Grobbelaar said the National Stadium pitch was totally playable, ahead of the Afcon final, saying management had worked tirelessly to get the turf ready by Sunday.

"The pitch is 100 percent playable and meets Fifa standards 100 percent.

"With regards to aesthetics, we may have five percent out on that. I think it can only improve towards summer, but we've got a lot of time left."