“If it’s been a problem for a few games, there should be a solution….”
Pohang Steelers head coach Kim Ki-dong sighed deeply. He met with reporters after checking the turf of the main stadium at Songam Sports Town in Chuncheon on Nov. 21 before the match against Gangwon FC. He said, “I’m worried about the players’ injuries. We can’t even play a good quality game due to the condition of the turf. The fans will also be disappointed.” As an away team, you have to be cautious about commenting on your opponent’s home field, but it’s clear that the grass was in bad shape.
Up close and personal, the stadium turf was still in bad shape. There was even a staircase-like layer between the healthy grass and the damaged areas. In some areas, it was almost impossible to see the grass. The field had been repaired a week earlier after the Suwon Samsung Electronics controversy, but it was not in playable condition.
The fears were realized. Go Young-jun (Pohang) was seen looking at the grass after missing a one-on-one opportunity with the goalkeeper. Every time a ball was contested on the damaged turf, sand flew everywhere. Even a simple sideways pass turned into a mistake on the grass. There were also many scenes of players struggling with irregular bounds.
It was disappointing that the grass was not easy for the players to play on in the top league of professional soccer. After the game, coach Kim Ki-dong said, “There were irregular bounds due to the grass, and the ball bounced and lost a lot of speed. I wonder if the players felt uncomfortable.” Gangwon-do Governor Kim Jin-tae and the club’s president also visited the stadium that day.
For now, there is no clear solution to the turf controversy. The Chuncheon Urban Corporation, which manages the stadium’s turf, has asked experts to look into it, but they have yet to find the exact cause. Fertilization is virtually the only option, but the field had been fertilized since the last game against Suwon.
Eventually, the KFA pulled out the knife. It left open the possibility that the next Chuncheon home game could be canceled after the last match, and received a detailed plan from Gangwon to improve the turf. Gangwon’s next home game is on June 7 against Daejeon Hana Citizens.
The federation will check the condition of the turf based on the plan submitted by the Daejeon club. If it is still not in good condition, the federation is considering moving the remaining two games scheduled for this season in Chuncheon to Gangneung. Gangwon was originally scheduled to play its home games in Gangneung starting in July, but the club wants to move up the date.
A federation official said, “We will check again when the turf improvement work is completed and if it is determined that it is difficult to hold the event normally, we are considering holding it in Gangneung. We need to discuss the schedule of the ongoing Minju Games in Gangneung. Wonju cannot be held because of the lighting facilities, and it is difficult to switch home and away for the third round robin because the home team is Gangwon.” 안전놀이터
According to the club, the Chuncheon City Corporation began work on the turf on the 22nd, the day after the game, according to the plan it had submitted to the federation. The problem is that it’s unclear how effective the work will be. This isn’t the first time the stadium’s turf has come under fire. Even if the treatment is short-lived, it means that the stadium will be ready for the June home game, but it’s likely to be repeated in the future.
The most frustrating part is that the stadium is home to Gangwon. It’s almost as frustrating for them as it is for Chuncheon City Corporation, which owns the stadium, to have to deal with an unwelcome issue while not being able to maintain the grass themselves. They just want to provide good conditions for the fans who visit the stadium and the players who play on the field, but it’s not easy. “We are continuing to work hard to improve the grass,” the club official added.