Commentary

Euro 2016 critics have a field day with playing conditions

At the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada, stars balked at playing on artificial turf. At the 2013 Gold Cup, the poor condition of the temporary grass field at Cowboys Stadium came under scrutiny. Euro 2016 was supposed to offer model field conditions -- all-grass or hybrid grass fields -- but the embarrassing field conditions for French games in Marseille and Nice have UEFA and French organizers pointing fingers at each other.

French coach Didier Deschamps was at a loss for words after Sunday's 0-0 tie between the Bleus and Switzerland during which French players repeatedly slipped on the Stade Pierre-Mauroy surface.

"You don't know who is responsible for what," he said. "It's only the end of the group stage, and we have field conditions like this?"

Deschamps went on to say the field was even worse than at Marseille's Stade Velodrome for the France-Albania game -- after which he labeled the conditions "disastrous." He blamed organizers for allowing an AC/DC concert to be held at the Stade Velodrome shortly before the tournament. French captain Patrice Evra was even more direct, saying players on other teams had told him Euro field conditions were "ridiculous."

French groundskeepers blame UEFA for ordering the grass fields replaced in Lille, Nice and Marseille -- the latter after the AC/DC concert -- and contracting with Austrian supplier Richter Rasen to import turf from Slovakia that was not compatible with the soil conditions in France.

To make matters worse, some of the grass shipped in for the Lille stadium froze while the trucks carrying it were delayed. Lille organizers had to spray parts of the field where the grass has deteriorated with green paint. Heavy rains have not helped, though they impacted the field at Stade Pierre-Mauroy less than others because the stadium roof shields most of the field. (The downside: the roof keeps out most of the natural light the grass needs to grow.)

The solution to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy mess might not come until after the tournament ends. A hybrid grass surface will be installed for Lille's 2016-17 Ligue 1 season.

Already, 19 Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 stadiums have installed hybrid grass surfaces, including the top two-rated fields in L'Equipe's ranking of field conditions in 2015-16 (Parc des Princes in Paris and Stade de l'Aube in Troyes.)
2 comments about "Euro 2016 critics have a field day with playing conditions".
  1. Claus Fischer, June 20, 2016 at 10:38 p.m.

    UEFA ordering fields to be replaced? I believe it. Or -- I certainly believe in utter field mismanagement. Visiting the Basel St. Jakob's venue at Euro 2008 on an off game day, I was aghast (yes, that word is not exaggeration) to see a stadium surface of bare, dark chocolately brown dirt. In what was a steady rain on a very cool day in in the start of the third week of June, I could see the rolled up and soon-to-be discarded grass. Next to it were more pristine rolls of what was to be laid out. I looked at my watch. All of this was just 72 hours before the Germany-Portugal match to be played on that surface June 19. Though that quarterfinals match between Germany and Portugal was rather exciting, it featured many, many moments of players losing their footing and adjusting their play to not slip. One does mistakenly assume that world class efforts are made at these playing venues to provide the best possible for players and the paying audience. That is not the case.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, June 21, 2016 at 1:55 p.m.

    Claus, do you know what they are referencing with hybrid grass?

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications