Spain considering UEFA protest over Gdansk pitch

Spain was considering filing an official protest to UEFA over

the state of the pitch at Gdansk’s PGE Arena after Italy’s refusal

to consent to extra watering left it dry for their opening European

Championship game.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque as well as players Andres

Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas all complained about the

turf following Sunday’s 1-1 Group C draw, which affected the

defending champions’ passing game.

”We need two teams to agree for the watering. There was no

consent from the Italians,” Polish football federation president

Grzegorz Lato said Monday, when Spain was expected to decide

whether to press ahead with its complaint.

Spain’s bid may come too late, however, as UEFA rules say any

protests lodged during the tournament ”must be presented in

writing … within a maximum of 12 hours of the end of the match.”

Otherwise, captain Iker Casillas would have had to make an official

protest in the presence of Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon during

the match.

Antonio Bustillo, head of communications at the Spanish football

federation, told The Associated Press on Monday that neither Del

Bosque nor any Spain players mentioned the pitch as being a problem

following Saturday’s training session on it. That followed heavy

rain on Thursday and Friday.

A number of players from both teams seemed to lose their footing

in the opening stages of the match.

”There was the clear intention to water the pitch as much as

possible, but certainly only up to the point before the additional

watering could cause damage to the pitch,” UEFA said in a

statement to the AP. ”This is why watering was stopped earlier

than 75 minutes before kickoff, further to the advice of the

greenkeeper (groundsman). The same procedure is used for all

matches in the tournament.”

Lato said Poland had a similar request to water the field

rejected by Greece before the opening match in Warsaw on

Friday.

Spain plays Ireland in Gdansk on Thursday in their second group

match. Italy is up against Croatia, which is top of the group

following its 3-1 victory over the Irish.

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report from

Warsaw.

Paul Logothetis can be reached at: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP;

Graham Dunbar is at: www.twitter.com/gdunbarap