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Austrians X-ray pitch and say France game can go ahead

Vienna (AFP) – An independent inspection of the Ernst-Happel Stadium pitch on Wednesday concluded that Austria’s game against France could go ahead even though a huge hole appeared during a Nations League match against Denmark earlier in the week.

With a sold-out match against world champions France scheduled for Friday, the Austrian football federation (OFB), commissioned an expert inspection, including X-rays, of the Vienna pitch.

“The report clearly recommends that the match should take place as scheduled,” Bernhard Neuhold, the OFB managing director, told AFP. 

“Nevertheless, we have to wait for a feedback from UEFA,” he added.

Contacted by AFP, UEFA did not communicate a decision on the fate of the match on Wednesday evening.

On Monday, after winning their Nations League game 2-1, Danish players complained about the hole that had appeared in the centre circle. They said it was at least 30cm deep.

“I don’t know what’s going on with this amateur stadium,” midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg told the press.

On Wednesday, an OFB spokeswoman told AFP that the hole was probably caused by recent heavy rain.

“It is likely that there was a significant increase in the level of groundwater from the nearby Danube, caused by heavy rains on Sunday night to Monday,” she said. 

“The waters exerted upward pressure on the pitch, which caused the formation of a cavity, leading to a hole.”

More rain is forecast in Vienna on Thursday and Friday.

Monday’s game was beset with problems.

Kick-off was delayed 90 minutes by a power cut.

“The outage affected neighbouring districts of Vienna and was caused by faulty power lines. The technicians say that the heavy rains on Sunday caused this problem,” the OFB told AFP.

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