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