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UEFA fork out $300,000 on new Euro pitch

    20 January 2021 Wednesday

    BASEL, Switzerland (AP) -- UEFA are spending $306,720 to lay new turf at St. Jakob Park after rain damage left the pitch unfit the remaining three matches scheduled for the Eueo 2008 venue.Tractors began removing the old turf hours after Sunday's match between Switzerland and Portugal, hauling away the grass that was spoiled by a torrential downpour during Turkey's victory over Switzerland last Wednesday.

    UEFA was importing a new playing surface from the Netherlands in 26 refrigerated trucks, with the 2.6-yard wide rolls set to be laid at the stadium.

    Officials said the old surface would have been fine for Thursday's quarterfinal, but that the demands of players training on it as well as a second quarterfinal two days later and a semifinal on June 25, would have been too much.

    "It wouldn't have been a problem to play on the old turf for the next match," said UEFA spokesman Pascale Voegeli. "The problem would have been too many training sessions and matches at short intervals."

    The new pitch should be ready by midday on Tuesday, UEFA confirmed, adding that two days should be enough for the turf to settle.

    "Prior to the tournament, the pitch was in excellent condition," Voegeli said. "It was laid at the end of April, and two days later the first match was played on it."

    The grass was drenched during Turkey's 2-1 win over Switzerland, with the ball sticking in puddles and players splashing surface water.

    It's the first time a field has needed replacing at a European Championship, but Voegeli said there would be no problems if another one was needed.

    "The problem shouldn't be a lack of replacement turf, but we hope and assume it will be the only one that needs to be replaced," Voegeli said.

    Netherlands coach Marco van Basten criticized the move to tear up the old pitch with his team set to play Sweden or Russia in Basel on Saturday.

    "People are taking this too lightly," he said, citing the poor standard of relaid surface at this season's Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United in Moscow. "You saw everybody slip. I don't think this is at the service of football."

    Chelsea captain John Terry slipped to miss a crucial penalty kick in a shootout when a goal would have earned his club the title. Manchester United went on to win. "It seems to me it is not good for the quality of football," Van Basten said.


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