the hole in the lawn of Vienna, a symbol of a stadium that embarrasses the Austrians before the reception of the Blues

the hole in the lawn of Vienna, a symbol of a stadium that embarrasses the Austrians before the reception of the Blues

For the past few days, France and Austria, whose national teams face off on Friday, June 10, have been sharing the same sentiment: a palpable discomfort caused by the circumstances surrounding a football match. On the one hand, there is the chaos at the Stade de France during the Champions League final on the Paris side on May 28th. On the other hand, a gaping hole in the middle of the lawn of the Ernst-Happel Stadium on the Vienna side, which caused a stir on Monday.

At the end of the match against Denmark in the Austrian capital, which had started an hour and a half late due to a power outage, images of Robert Skov Olsen plunging his foot into a hole about thirty centimeters long on the lawn went around social media. “It could have ruined a career today, thankfully it didn’t happen. “stressed the Danish striker at the end of the match on the site of TV 2 Sport (article in Danish).

Like France with Liverpool fans, Austria has suffered harsh criticism from the Danes. “I don’t know what’s going on at this amateur stage. “launched Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on TV 2 Sport, while his coach Kasper Hjulmand judged the field “Disastrous“.

The evening thus provoked a small crisis, against a background of obsolescence of the equivalent of the Stade de France for the Austrian selection. “The holes come and go. Image damage remains“he wrote The Standard. The same Austrian media judge Ernst Happel, a great Austrian footballer and coach who died in 1992, “would not have deserved his name to be associated with this stage“.

His tarnished image, the ÖFB (Austrian Football Federation) therefore sought to react before welcoming the French world champions on their lawn. On the one hand, Bernhard Neuhold, General Manager of the OFB, took advantage of a sponsorship operation, on the sidelines of the pre-match press conference on Thursday, to give some explanations. According to him, the problem is related to the increase of the water table under the stadium, near the Danube, after the heavy rains that hit Vienna.

In addition, the hole was plugged. The players of the French team were able to notice him on the pitch of the stadium during their training on Thursday, with half of the central circle well separated from the rest of the field. In addition to this emergency operation, the Austrian federation wants to take action in the long term. “We are the only country in Europe with such a poor infrastructure. One day we won’t be able to play here or we won’t have the right. You have to be realistic“, lamented Gerhard Milletich, President of the OFB.

The subject often returns to the table. In 2008, the federation demanded a new venue before hosting the Euro, with the government simply getting the Ernst-Happel Stadium renovated. The venue had hosted the final of the competition. From now on, it no longer seems suitable for major international meetings, according to local journalists and officials. So Milletich and the OFB are demanding “a change in mentality at the federal and national levels“to get”a new multifunctional stage“.

The OFB, which is a tenant of the Ernst-Happel Stadium, “could not stand “ the financial contribution to the construction of a new stadium, however, warned its president. The government is therefore asked to address the issue caused by the largest stadium in the country (48,500 spectators). “But it won’t be settled for long because the government doesn’t want to pay. “a member of the federation explained to us.

In the meantime, the Austrian national team could relocate its next matches to other cities in the country. Austria’s new coach Ralf Rangnick validated the option on Thursday.

While it rained much of Thursday in the Austrian capital and the weather is also expected to be capricious on Friday, the question of danger to players and their physical integrity obviously arises. “There are no worries about the game, on Monday the lawn was in good condition before the end“Said the Austrian David Alaba while his teammates tasted the part of the lawn redone on Thursday, during the last training session.

So all eyes will be on the grass on Friday night. Austria would not like to add to their current embarrassment the injury of a player in their stadium.

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