Chelsea Women’s fan group to push for undersoil heating at home of WSL title-holders after frozen pitch fiasco
WOMEN’S football stars and fans criticised the shambolic scenario of Chelsea having their WSL game against Liverpool halted after six minutes due to a frozen pitch.
A Blues supporters group say they intend to contact the club about undersoil heating at the home of the women’s side.
The high profile duel between Emma Hayes’ Blues and Matt Beard’s Reds became the second of three WSL fixtures kiboshed by frosty turf conditions.
And sixth tier women’s side Brentford saw their game against Whyteleafe called off ten minutes into the second half due to icy turf.
Match goers at Chelsea’s Kingsmeadow ground and WSL followers on social media expressed amazement at the 12:30pm fixture being suspended minutes into the game.
The game was officially given the green light to ahead by referee Neil Hair.
Events unfolded live on BBC Two with the game being aired on the channel.
Players in the starting eleven for Chelsea and Liverpool and WSL fans took to social media platforms to share their dismay at the debacle.
Many called for better treatment and respect for Women’s Super League games.
Via her Twitter account Chelsea ace Katerina Svitkova wrote: “There is still a lot to do in women’s football.
“It is very sad that in this league this still can happen. We need better, we deserved better.”
Blues winger Erin Cuthbert, whose team will face Liverpool at home this Sunday in the FA Cup, tweeted: “So, so sorry to all our fans who turned up today and braved the cold weather.
“This shouldn’t be happening and we will demand more for our game.
“Angry and frustrated but we will be ready for Wednesday.”
Cuthbert’s club-mate and Blues goalkeeper Zecira Musovic described the situation as “a major joke”
Musovic tweeted: “Who needs 90 minutes when you can get it all in 8’.
“End to end action, some ice skating in the middle from Niamh (Fahey), ref calling the two skippers for a serious chat and the other coach going crazy for it being too dangerous.
“That was a major joke, unacceptable. Do better.”
In an Instagram post, centre-back Kadeisha Buchanan wrote: “It’s mind boggling that there are games/training (sessions) being cancelled because of frozen pitches throughout the league.
“We play in a cold country, we should have heated pitches too.
“Where are our ratings as women footballers?”
And her Blues colleague and vice-skipper Millie Bright added: “On every front today (Sunday) was unacceptable!!
“We demand more for our game.. DO BETTER.”
The postponement sparked debate on the need for undersoil heating at grounds hosting women’s top tier games.
And a Blues’ fan group intends to discuss the issue with their club which is the eighth richest in the world according Deloitte’s latest Football League rankings.
Chelsea Women’s Supporters Group told SunSport: “We have been very lucky with the pitch at Kingsmeadow
“Since the team has been playing there we’ve only had one or two games postponed so we have never called for it (undersoil heating) in the past.
“We will now have a conversation with the club that this should be in place at Kingsmeadow.”
After the match’s suspension, Blues skipper Magda Eriksson told reporters: “The players were trying to mentally prepare for the game as we would.
“We were just following what we’ve been told and trying to get on with it.
“It was quite obvious once the whistle blew it wasn’t possible to play the game and obviously should have been dealt with in a better way.”
Liverpool striker Katie Stengel appeared to question why Stamford Bridge was chosen as the ground for the fixture with the home of the Blues Prem players not in use today.
The Reds ace quote tweeted a post from Vivianne Miedema in which the Arsenal forward called for the deployment of undersoil heating at grounds and mentioned
In her tweet, which followed an earlier post of players losing their balance on the turf at Kingsmeadow, Stengel wrote: “I heard Stamford Bridge was wide open today.”
In a statement the FA said matchday referee Hair gave the fixture the go-ahead after a 09:30 pitch inspection
A second check before kick-off also followed with the use of a pitch cover and heaters.
However it is thought a number of players flagged edges of the pitch were slippery with some seen losing their balance after the game commenced before being postponed.
A Women’s Super League spokesperson said: “We worked hard with the clubs and the match officials to safely play the Barclay’s Women’s Super League fixture between Chelsea and Liverpool as scheduled.
“Following inspections before the match, the pitch was deemed to be playable by the matchday referee.
“However, shortly after kick off, the referee made the decision to abandon the match in order to protect the safety of the players, which is paramount.
“We sincerely apologise to all fans who travelled to the match. The fixture will be rescheduled in due course.”
Hayes publicly apologised to Blues and Reds fans who flocked to the game
Whilst stating the timing of the call-off was wrong she said the decision to postpone was the right one for the safety of players.
Hayes was asked by BBC Sport guest pundit Hope Powell whether undersoil heating is needed at matches.
The Blues chief said: “We’ve made progress, investment has gone into the quality of the grass and surfaces across the league.
“Next step is under soil heating. No game in the women’s game at this top level should be cancelled, end of subject.
“We need under soil heating l everywhere. We don’t live in Barbados.”
Brighton postponed their Sunday evening duel with Arsenal two hours and 34 minutes before their 6:45 pm kick-off.
And Tottenham’s Sunday clash with rock Leicester became the first Women’s Super League encounter to be called off with Spurs announcing the postponement on Saturday night.
Comments are closed.