Andorra vs England: 2022 World Cup qualifier to go ahead after stadium fire

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Estadi Nacional, due to host the Group I clash between Gareth Southgate's Three Lions and Koldo Alvarez's hosts, caught aflame on Friday afternoon

England's 2022 World Cup qualifying clash with Andorra will proceed on Saturday despite a fire at the latter's national stadium, the Andorran football association has assured.

The Group I clash between Gareth Southgate's Three Lions and Koldo Alvarez's hosts looked to be under threat after a blaze broke out at the microstate's Estadi Nacional in Andorra la Vella.

But with the incident since controlled by the local authorities, assurances have been made that the encounter will be played as originally intended this weekend.

What has been said?

“No personal harm has been reported, only material damage,” a spokesperson for the Andorran Football Federation stated.

“The schedule will continue as planned and the match will go ahead.”

The spokesperson did not add as to whether there would have to be any further considerations for external factors, such as crowds and television broadcast, for the match.

What happened earlier?

Shortly after teams had held their press conferences ahead of their encounter on Saturday, the stadium was pictured in flames, caught on a live broadcast by Sky Sports News.

The fire, apparently confined to a single side of the field, appeared to engulf the television gantry used for broadcast and the pitchside monitor used for VAR decisions.

Fire crews were quick to the scene and the blaze was brought under control before it spread any further.

The bigger picture

The news that Saturday's game can proceed as planned will be of some relief to Southgate and England, who had risked seeing their schedule further disrupted by the blaze.

The manager, who has indicated that Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier will captain the side against Andorra, will see his side return to Wembley next week to face Hungary.

Now, their match against Andorra can take place as scheduled this weekend, in a history-making encounter that will see an all-female refereeing team take charge of England for the first time.

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