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Netherlands and Poland denied training on new Hamburg stadium field ahead of Euro 2024 game

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — The newly laid field in the Hamburg stadium was off limits to the Netherlands and Poland on Saturday, one day before their opening game at the European Championship.

A new grass surface was ordered at Volksparkstadion after host club Hamburger completed its home fixtures on May 19 in the Bundesliga second tier.

Four weeks later, UEFA wanted to protect it from the teams’ traditional eve-of-game practice before the stadium hosts its first game at Euro 2024. Hamburg is due to stage five games including one quarterfinal.

“We are not allowed to train here either, because of the bad quality of the pitch,” Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman said at the venue where the teams kick off on Sunday at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT).

UEFA insisted in a statement the surface “is in good condition and in order to preserve its quality the official (training) will take place at the respective team base camp.”

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk suggested the field was similar to the one in Frankfurt where the Oranje lost to Germany 2-1 in a March friendly.

“It’s not very good but both teams have to face it,” said Van Dijk, a couple of hours after Poland captain Piotr Zieliński suggested, “It doesn’t look that bad.”

UEFA seeks to give national teams the best possible playing surfaces at its showpiece tournament and often installs new fields at stadiums and training camps. It has replacements on standby if an entire playing field needs to be relaid during the monthlong tournament.

Switzerland made a formal complaint to UEFA this week about the training camp surface it was given near Stuttgart, though on Saturday it did not seem to have harmed the team’s preparation. The slick Swiss beat Hungary 3-1 in their opening game.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

The Associated Press