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Soccer | Jun 21

Argentina Players Pissed Over Grass at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The Temporary Grass Installed at the Falcons’ Stadium Was an Issue for Players in the Copa America Opener

Argentina Players Pissed Over Grass at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Lionel Messi of Argentina kicks a corner - Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Grass Over Turf, Always! 

The field was a disaster … It jumped up on you as you ran. – Emiliano Martinez

We’re one game into Copa America 2024 and already there is a controversy. Well, two controversies if you count Argentina’s tardiness after halftime, but that’s a Messi story (see what we did there).

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No, this has everything to do with the pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta. It is home to the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. You may also remember it as Kanye’s UberEats address for that weird month in 2021.

Both teams play on artificial turf but a requirement to host major events like Copa America and the World Cup is to have natural grass.

Atlanta apparently reached a compromise by laying down grass just days before the Argentina-Canada Copa America 2024 schedule opener. The results were less than stellar, per sources. Those sources are Argentina players who can’t stop talking about how bad the field was at the Benz.

 

Uncle Arthur and Company Spent $1 BILLION

Gather around boys and girls, because this is a favorite topic of mine. The stadium cost more than $1 billion (yes, with a B) and $700 million came from taxpayers which may or may not have included yours truly.

The stadium is truly beautiful in person but looks terrible on television for two reasons. For some reason, the lighting appears to be dark on TV. More importantly, the artificial turf looks really bad aesthetically, not to mention athletes tend to prefer grass which causes fewer injuries.

 “We faced a strong Canada team tonight on a pitch that was a disaster, honestly it was complicated. The field was a disaster,” Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said, per The Athletic. “It jumped up on you as you ran.”

 

The Atlanta Pitch Has Not Been an Issue at Other Matches

I’ve been to two other matches at the Benz where the venue had actual grass. Most recently, for the USWNT’s game in the SheBelieves Cup. Additionally, Chelsea and several EPL teams had friendlies there in 2023.

On both occasions there were no issues with the grass, but my guess is the pitch was laid well before these events. If Atlanta wants to keep hosting major soccer games, it is time for the venue to make the permanent switch to grass.

It looks better. It’s better not only for soccer players but also for the American football players that use the field. It’s time for Arthur to use some of that Home Depot money to make the permanent switch and earn some positive soccer news.

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