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UEFA blames heavy rain for damaging fields at Euro 2016

17 June 2016, 19:10

Paris - Some soccer fields at the European Championship have not been good enough, UEFA tournament director Martin Kallen said Friday.

Citing recent heavy rain as the main reason, Kallen said the grass in Marseille is not as good as UEFA wants.

Stadiums which stage non-soccer events - including the Stade de France and in Lille - have longer-standing issues with the quality of the turf.

"The pitches should be better, sure," Kallen said at a briefing on UEFA's tournament operations. "We have problems and we do our utmost."

In Marseille, France coach Didier Deschamps blamed the surface on a rock concert after his team labored to beat Albania 2-0 on Wednesday.

"It's a disaster, but that's not surprising," Deschamps said. "If you have an AC/DC concert a month before the European Championship - they're changing the pitch, re-laying the turf."

Kallen said the new turf was laid on May 16-17 after UEFA took over Stade Velodrome for the tournament. UEFA has exclusive control of all 10 Euro 2016 stadiums for the month-long tournament.

"It was a difficult time the last three, four weeks because of rain. Because of the weather it could not take enough roots," the UEFA official said.

A new roof at the renovated stadium also deprives the surface of sunshine and drying winds.

"There is not enough sun, that is why the pitch is always suffering," Kallen said.

"The new stadiums have not enough light and wind, so you see a lot of lamps and wind machines to compensate for what nature brought in automatically."

Playing surfaces are better at soccer-only stadiums such as Paris Saint-Germain's Parc des Princes in Paris and in Lens.

Kallen, who began organizing UEFA's showpiece tournament at Euro 2004, said French weather patterns over the past decade showed there could be problems with rain.

On Thursday evening, the Northern Ireland-Ukraine match in Lyon was suspended for several minutes in the second half because of a hail storm.

At Euro 2008, rain during a Switzerland-Turkey match in Basel, Switzerland, was so severe that a new playing surface was laid the next day.

Kallen said UEFA would be able to do the same in France.

"The risk was enormous," Kallen said of the Basel decision. "We had to change it but the pitch was not top (quality). It did not look good and there were a lot of comments from the teams, the media, the officials."

- AP

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