Marseille Euro 2016 pitch a ‘disaster’ – Deschamps


Marseille (AFP) – The Euro 2016 pitch in Marseille has been labelled a “disaster” by France coach Didier Deschamps adding to fears over several tournament pitches that has led to top British troubleshooters being brought in.

UEFA, which raised concerns about French pitches before the tournament, has banned Iceland and Hungary from training on the Stade Velodrome ahead of their game there Saturday.

An AC/DC rock concert was held on the pitch on May 13 and Deschamps was furious that it was so close to the start of the tournament.

French midfielder Paul Pogba and other players were seen slipping on the Velodrome turf and chunks were clearly cut up in France’s 2-0 Group A win over Albania on Wednesday.

England played Russia there last Saturday and there are still four more matches to be played on the turf, including a quarter-final and a semi-final.

France needed late goals from Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet to overcome a determined Albanian defence and Deschamps partly blamed the pitch.

“It’s not surprising, if there’s an AC/DC concert before the Euros…that’s not going to help the game and it will result in more technical mistakes,” Deschamps said.

“When I saw the photos and videos after the concert, I thought I was on another planet. You have no right to do that,” he raged.

Fears have been expressed about pitches at several of the 10 French stadiums ahead of the tournament.

Chief organiser Jacques Lambert warned “it’s not very reassuring” almost a year before the football extravaganza kicked off.

Despite efforts in recent months, the Stade Velodrome pitch has proved particularly problematic.

“The grass at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille has been heavily used since the start of the tournament, despite the joint efforts of stadium groundsmen and UEFA,” European football’s governing body acknowledged to AFP on Thursday.

UEFA was so concerned that it called in specialists to help look after the Marseille turf this year.

UEFA dismissed any impact of the AC/DC concert as the turf was changed after. But the governing body has deemed the state worrisome enough to keep Iceland and Hungary away from the pitch before Saturday’s match.

UEFA has not ruled out cancelling other training sessions either.

The Stade de France, which will host the July 10 final, has also drawn the ire of Deschamps in recent times.

A new hybrid surface was laid at the national stadium at the start of the year and a British groundsman, Tony Stones, who used to look after Wembley Stadium, was brought in to nurture the ground.

There are also new surfaces at Lille and Nice.

At Lille, about 10 giant blowers are used on the ground between matches to make sure the turf is not damaged by rain.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Parc des Princes pitch is said to have the best surface of the 10 in the tournament.

PSG’s Qatari owners brought in a British ground manager, Jonathan Calderwood, to care for the turf.

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