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Argentina rips ‘disaster’ field for 2024 Copa America

The Argentina national team was stunned by the newly laid grass surface at Atlanta Mercedes-Benz Stadium after their 2-0 win over Canada on Thursday night in the opening match of the 2024 Copa America.

“The condition of the pitch was awful,” goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said. From ESPN.

Emiliano Martinez, Argentine goalkeeper. Reuters

“It’s very unstable and we have to improve on this, otherwise the Copa America will always be at a lower level than the European Championships.”

The defending World Cup and Copa America champions started on a high note with a shutout win over their Group A rivals.

Instead of celebrating, coach Lionel Scaloni used the occasion to scold a venue that appeared unprepared for the tournament.

“The strange thing is, we’ve known for months that we’d be playing here but in terms of the pitch we could have reacted sooner,” he said.

According to ESPN, the pitch, which is home to the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC, is an artificial turf surface that was covered with natural grass just three days ago.

Argentina national team coach, Lionel Scaloni. Reuters

Scaloni, who has been in charge of the Argentina national team since 2018, noticed something was wrong with the powerful team.

“We didn’t necessarily play well, but we responded to the pitch and our rivals’ attacks,” the manager said, according to ESPN. “We couldn’t have done more given the state of the pitch.”

“Look at the speed we passed.”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Getty Images

It was a deja vu moment for Scaloni.

He drew parallels with the 2022 World Cup opener, where Argentina suffered a shock defeat after a 36-match unbeaten run.

“The game was similar to the World Cup against Saudi Arabia, but the pitch was better,” Scaloni said, as reported by ESPN. “I’m glad we won. It would have seemed like an excuse otherwise, but they knew seven months ago that we were going to play here and they changed the field two days before. It’s not an excuse, but this is not a good field. To be honest, this field doesn’t suit these players.”

Argentina during their match against Canada. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Argentina was not the only country to complain.

Canada defender Kamal Miller also felt disappointed with the state of the pitch as this was the national team’s first-ever Copa America match.

“It felt like I was walking onto an empty stage,” Miller told the outlet.

Lionel Messi lay on the field after failing to score. Reuters

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled to host the match between the United States and Panama on June 27.

The stadium is also due to host eight matches at the 2026 World Cup, so the condition of the pitch is likely to remain a hot topic.