Pitch for Ireland v Italy “irreversibly damaged”

New pitch will be laid in Lille for knockout games

Uefa has admitted that the pitch on which Ireland will play Italy tonight is "irreversibly damaged," and an entirely new one will be laid in time for the remaining Euro 2016 games to be staged at stadium in Lille.

Three have been played there already but weeks of bad weather the damage to the surface was particularly apparent during the game between Switzerland and France on Sunday.

"It isn't suitable," said Antonio Conte at his pre-match press conference. "It isn't up to hosting a European Championship match. It's not in the best state. I'm not making excuses for my players; we will play on it in the same way that the Republic of Ireland will play on it but I did expect better. The pitch isn't up to the standards of the competition."

The problems means that neither side could train at the Pierre Mauroy stadium yesterday but the Irish players already knew what they are in for.


"We saw the pitch didn't look that great," said Stephen Ward the other day. "It's going to be the same for the Italians as it is for ourselves so that makes it a level playing field (and) myself and Wes Hoolahan have played in the League of Ireland so we're used to it."

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times