It's being called the worst groundskeeping job in Belgian soccer history, and it will cost American Sacha Kljestan's Anderlecht an estimated $20 million. The area around the white penalty spot where the shootout at Tuesday's Anderlecht-Partizan game at Anderlecht's Constant Vanden Stock Stadium was conducted was so soft that three Anderlecht players skied their shots over the goal and Partizan won the UEFA Champions League playoff series.
“The field was very bad around the penalty spot, but that naturally doesn’t make it an excuse,” said Mbark Boussoufa, who missed Anderlecht’s final kick. “We should be able to control our nerves in such moments, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to do it.” Argentines Matias Suarez and Lucas Biglia also missed badly. Suarez glared at the ground after he slipped.
The difference between winning and reaching the Champions League and losing and moving into the Europa league is close to $20 million in prize money, broadcast revenue and other income just for participating in the group stage of the Champions League.