A last-minute re-lay of the pitch for the Champions League final has led to growing concerns over its condition.
In February, UEFA confirmed that 2021-22 final, which will be played between Real Madrid and Liverpool, was to be moved from St Petersburg to Paris, due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
As a result, it left organisers in a rush to get the Stade de France in Paris ready to host today’s final, with a backlog of events meaning the new pitch was not completely laid until 1 am on Thursday, as revealed by the Telegraph.
The Stade de France has been playing catch-up on events pushed back due to the Covid pandemic.
Today, stadium organisers oversaw the second of two sell-out nights for French new wave band, Indochine.
The plan was to then focus on preparing the football pitch in time for France’s Nations League game against Denmark on June 3.
But UEFA’s switch meant that they had a week less than originally scheduled to prepare for the biggest match in European club football’s calendar.
‘We were originally ready to lay the new turf in four to five days,’ Benoit Lavallee, chief executive of iTurf Management, which runs four stadiums in France including the Stade de France, told the Telegraph.
‘With the Champions League final it became a little bit of a bigger challenge.’
We had to lay it in 48 hours.’
In a race against time, Lavellee detailed how 24 refrigerated trucks travelled from Spain on Sunday to begin the process of turning the Stade de France from a concert venue into a footballing venue.
The pitch, which is a hybrid of five per cent synthetic, increasingly common these days, is divided into 500 rolls. The first of which is said to have arrived in Paris close to midnight on Monday.
Work began at 2am on Tuesday and it is reported to have been ‘non-stop’ from there in getting the work done, with those working on the pitch wrapping things up at 1am on Thursday.
It will be a bone of contention for both Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti if the pitch becomes a focal point in such a big game.
Both teams got an early look at the surface when they trained on it yesterday night.
UEFA typically allows finalists to get a feel for the neutral venue and pitch by training on it the night prior to the game.
This pitch will run through much of June, with France’s Nations League games on June 3 against Denmark and June 13 against Croatia.
Its final outing will be the Top 14 rugby final on June 24, before organisers are back to pull it up.