Frozen pitch between Chelsea vs Liverpool highlights big problems for WSL

Britain has been cold this month. This isn’t breaking news for anyone; After all, it’s January in Northern Europe. We’re a third of the way through winter, and most of us have had those “dog on a shiny hardwood floor” moments when trying to get to the stores, our rubber soles not. bought a lot on the icy sidewalks.

However, for those tuning in on Sunday intending to celebrate Chelseaconflict with Liverpool, they would be surprised to see the players slip and fall on the frozen Kingsmeadow. Well, at least a little less than five minutes.

After the Liverpool winger Shanice van de Sanden saw her scratched shot collected by the keeper Zećira Mušovićand the Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert Slowly getting up from a hard fall while trying to take the lead, referee Neil Hair blew his whistle. The game clock read 4:53 when he signaled the two captains to end — their conversation didn’t last long before he walked over to the two coaches and then the game moderator. .

There was confusion in the comment box and at Kingsmeadow before the boos started to ring: the game ends.

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Providing color commentary to the BBC, former England and Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis recounted a story from her playing days, and of what appeared to be a page from the match. 2009-2010 National League Cup final held in early February in Rochdale: ” I remember playing in a League Cup final [about] 10 years ago it was a TV game and at the time, there weren’t many TV games. Basically, they made us play. [The pitch] sharp, hard as a rock, hard to keep your feet steady – it’s dangerous in the end.”

The BBC has denied any influence on the upcoming match, told The Athletic“There is no pressure applied by the BBC to start the game. Player safety is always paramount.”

There is a certain coincidence surrounding the fact that both games were chosen to air on Sundays (Brighton compare to weaponscheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. local time, the remaining game) appeared to have very lengthy yard checks while iron spur compare to Leicester City (not selected for broadcast) was canceled the day before.

Indeed, the inspection of the pitch at Crawley Town, where Brighton play most of their home games, took so long that the match was not declared postponed until 4:11pm – almost two hours after the test is supposed to start at 2:30pm Calling the game too late in the day is also an insult: many fans have already begun their journey to the southern lands, including a team of heroes from Arsenal Women’s Supporters Club, who took shelter in a pub half a mile above the ground.

If the Chelsea-Liverpool match were simply canceled after the initial inspection of the pitch at 9:30am, when, according to some sources, it was deemed impossible, then we would simply criticize it. cold weather and maybe talk about the effects of climate change or come up with an idea for patio heating WSL. However, watching the two top-tier teams, including the defending champions, attempt to balance on the ice for 293 seconds before the referee stopped his antics, hastened the pitch problem. compete in the tournament.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a clash between the Blues and The Reds has sparked debate over the quality of surfaces in the WSL – their clash at Prenton Park in December 2019 has spread by a similar amount of outrage.

That day, the muddy ground at Birkenhead angered Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, who called it “a stain on the club”. Images of Cuthbert kneeling on a muddy pitch, his clothes and skin covered in mud have been circulating among female football fans and players for weeks. This time, it is super video about players struggling (and failing) to keep their feet on the frozen ground with the unfortunate highlight of Niamh Charles, the Chelsea defender unable to get up after slipping on the hard surface.

After the match, Hayes calls for heating in the yard across the league, but nothing can stop Chelsea, who owns their Kingsmeadow home ground, from installing one. (Unless, of course, they’re being blocked by those forces.)

Teams like Arsenal and Brighton, who don’t own their usual league homes – Borehamwood and Crawley respectively – are unlucky as they are renters, even if they have the money to spend on those things. Indeed, only Chelsea, Leicester City, City of Manchester and Read own their typical home ground. With the Foxes and Royals using the men’s stadium for their matches, the quality of their pitch is rarely questioned, but for others, and where non-league grounds have long been become the norm for women’s teams in England, it’s been a constant bone of contention.

There is, of course, the argument that if a club cannot afford to install under-field heating or, for example, pay their players for the duration of their pregnancy — Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir’s story is yet another difficult bright spot this month — or even meeting what we’re starting to see as the basic requirement, should they have a women’s team in the first place are not? We know that even among clubs with enough money to sponsor their women’s teams, there is a tendency to spend a bit more than the bare minimum.

A visible and felt problem through the game comes with an increasingly rapid pace of development and growth, particularly in England, where from the 2018-19 season all the teams in the WSL competed in the competition. full-time match. While the men’s game evolved spontaneously, crossing bridges and overcoming obstacles as it reached them, there was a rapid advance in women’s soccer that saw the car push in front of the horse. For example, the WSL broadcast deal highlights national interest in the sport, but with the grounds used by 12 teams often of lower quality, there will be disconnects, although although certainly not unique, as many clubs fail at basics like proper medical care.

However, with the image of Charles & Co. skate on Kingsmeadow as Bambi got used to his feet still in mind, Multiplayer – both in the WSL and elsewhere – used social media to claim that what happened on Sunday was not good enough and that it is inappropriate for a league that considers itself one of the best. The best tournaments still see a lot of games canceled because of the elements.

But it’s not that the Chelsea vs Liverpool match was even cancelled, it was started from the very beginning. The timeline of events leading up to the match was messy and contradictory, and the FA’s brief statement that took more than three hours to be released further fueled anger and raised questions about who was trying. force the match to take place.

According to Liverpool manager Matt Beard, he spoke to the referee before starting to say he thought the pitch was unplayable – the Red Devils even had to move the pre-match warm-up to another part of the pitch. The yard has no shade. Furthermore, Liverpool chief executive Russ Fraser even emailed FA to document the club’s concerns about the possibility of the match taking place.

As the coach told the BBC directly after the game was halted, “Whoever made the decision for the game to continue has put the players at risk today.”

As the clock ticks to 6:45pm, as Brighton prepares to play Arsenal, there is worry that we might see scenes similar to a forced match. This isn’t even the first time this season that a Brighton home game play on a question soggy play surface. However, common sense prevailed and the match was adjourned.

Not only did the scenes from Kingsmeadow on Sunday as well as Crawley earlier in the season make the tournament look like a joke, reducing the value of the product, but also putting players at risk. As Beard said yesterday, the pitch cannot be “naked” during the warm-up phase, hence the comical scene of professional football players slithering on hard grass. Fortunately, with the exception of a few bruises, no players were injured on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they were at risk in the first place.

While costly underfloor heating may not be the solution for the tournament, something needs to be done to ensure players are not forced to play in dangerous conditions.


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