Chelsea’s Women’s Super League match against Liverpool was delayed by six minutes due to icy pitches, described as “embarrassing.”
The match, broadcast live, kicked off at 12:30 GMT at Kingsmeadow in Kingston upon Thames as scheduled following pitch inspections earlier.
But just six minutes later took the team away when referee Neil Hale deemed the pitch unsafe.
Reds boss Matt Beard said the decision to start the game jeopardized the safety of his players.
The events on Sunday began with pitch inspections at 09:30 and ended with players slipping. Disappointed supporters addressed by Chelsea boss Emma Hayes and shared by managers, pundits, and players on social media criticism.
Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said she was “angry and devastated” by what had happened.
The FA and WSL said referees had initially deemed the pitch unplayable after a first inspection but reversed that decision after a second inspection before players warmed up, using pitch covers and heaters.
“However, shortly after kick-off, the referee decided to forfeit the game to protect the safety of the players, which is of the utmost importance,” a statement said. “We sincerely ask pardon to all the fans who came to watch the game.”
According to the FA, the decision on whether a pitch is safe to play is made only by match officials and not by the league or participating teams.
Speaking to the source immediately after the postponement, Hayes said the women’s game had to take more “seriously,” while Beard said: “It shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”
The Liverpool boss added: “Whoever decided to go ahead put the players at risk today.”
Hayes said it was “subsoil heating time” for all WSL matches, adding: “The games should never have started.”
Chelsea has been looking to extend their four-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the Women’s Super League.
“It’s not something managers can decide whether to switch on; it’s up to the FA and the officials,” Hayes added. “We have to say to ourselves, and it’s time to go underground. We have to take our game seriously. Yes. Yes, we can have blowers and pitch tents, but that’s not enough.”
Beard said he raised concerns about the play with the referees beforehand.