Luzhniki’s Level Playing Field

Two weeks before the European Champions League Final, Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium has reportedly torn up the pitch it spent nine months preparing and imported one from Slovakia.

The organisers grew a grass pitch to replace Luzhniki’s artificial surface but, shortly after installing it, decided it was too bumpy for the soccer stars from the U.K.’s Chelsea and Manchester United teams.

Slovakian grass may not be any greener, but it seems that the country’s soccer pitches are much flatter. The country has supplied the stadium with another grass pitch for £160,000.

The pitch originally intended for the final was grown less than a half-mile from the stadium at a cost of £150,000.

The Union of European Football Associations has admitted to bringing in the new pitch but seems a little embarrassed by the incident and says that the first one was never installed at Luzhniki.

However, pitch expert Matthew Frost – who’s been overseeing the operation – told the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph that it had been laid.

"We put it in the stadium, then we took it out again. It was always the wrong selection of turf. I told them that nine months ago. But I’m an adviser and all I can do is advise. It’s a normal situation in Russia," he explained.

Luzhniki deputy general director Boris Megrelidze told the paper that the stadium had bought the Slovak pitch and hurried it through customs in time for the May 21 kick-off.

The discarded pitch is apparently being used for landscaping around the outside of the stadium.