Pitches at the European Championships

A statement by the Grounds Management Association

Regrettably, some of the European Championship pitches became headline news for all the wrong reasons with an impassioned statement from The French Association for Lawn (Société Française des Gazon/SFG) and an equally robust response by UEFA defending the team commissioned as consultants tasked with delivering the Championships.

All major events are under scrutiny from a worldwide audience and sadly this is not the first time at a major tournament where issues have arisen and the resultant negative headlines take away the actual success stories, such as the pitch prepared by Jonathan Calderwood at Paris Saint-Germain. 

Those responsible for delivering tournaments must look at the methodology and approach going forwards. 

Describing anyone connected as a mercenary, as expressed by SFG, shows a deep divide and does not solve the problem.  

Lessons must be learnt. Failing pitches is not a deliberate act and is regrettable for all concerned.

As an organisation that provides training and education to the UK turf industry, the GMA is confident in the expertise of the UK groundsman and the standards being achieved across sport today. The essence of good groundsmanship at this level is based on teamwork and respect, and it is important that those responsible for staging tournaments do take account of, and harness, local knowledge and expertise.  Other contributing factors such as adverse weather conditions (preceding the tournament and during it) cannot be dismissed either. 

Pitches today are like the finely-tuned athletes who use them; they depend on skill, expertise and dedication - which we are confident that all those involved have and will use to reverse the situation to allow the actual football to be the focal point of the European Championships.