Letzigrund stadium shut on safety grounds

ZURICH - Zurich, home to football's governing body FIFA and one of the world's leading financial centres, has been left without a top-class football stadium after the Letzigrund was temporarily shut on safety grounds.

Swiss champions FC Zurich said city authorities had ordered the arena to be closed after a tear was found in one of the 31 stands which support the roof.

"Further safety checks are necessary and the stadium will be shut until March 1," said the club on their website.

The decision means three games - including a derby between Zurich and arch-rivals Grasshoppers - have been postponed.

Switzerland are due to host fellow World Cup qualifiers Uruguay in a friendly at the ground two days after its scheduled re-opening.

Zurich's only other football stadium, the Hardturm used by Grasshoppers, was demolished two years ago and plans for a replacement, named Stadion Zurich, have stalled.

Since then, Grasshoppers have also played at the Letzigrund, which is used for the annual Weltklasse athletics meeting.

The Letzigrund was a venue at the European championship in 2008 which Switzerland co-hosted with Austria.