Players slam state of Aussie football pitches

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Players slam state of Aussie football pitches

MELBOURNE - A players’ survey has criticized the standard of some A-League pitches, including venues proposed for World Cup matches if Australia wins the right to host either of the 2018 or 2022 events.

“Clearly, the players would prefer to see better surfaces at some venues, most notably Newcastle Jets’ Energy Australia Stadium, Melbourne Victory’s Etihad Stadium and Gold Coast United’s Skilled Park,’’ Professional Footballers Australia chief executive Brendan Schwab said Wednesday. “Of all the football codes, soccer clearly demands the best playing surface and this has yet to become part of Australia’s sporting culture.’’

Schwab said the firmness of some pitches increased the risk of injury, while the pace of the ball off the surface reduced the quality of play.

Most pitches used for the 10-team A-League are also used for either the National Rugby League, Super 14 rugby union or Australian Football League competitions during the southern winter - sports which require longer grass than is generally accepted for football.

However the survey proved that multi-use venues can work, as Brisbane Roar’s stadium - also home to the Brisbane Broncos NRL club and the Queensland Reds Super 14 team - was rated the best in the A-League after 18 rounds of the weekly polling.

In the players’ union survey, captains are asked to rate the pitch in four criteria - overall quality, hardness, pace and smoothness - and give it a score out of five.

Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium was clearly the best with a rating of 4.7, well clear of second-place Adelaide at 4.1.

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