French football, with grass and water constraints, is suffering from drought

The rectangle is no longer green: the historic drought in France is weakening football fields and forcing clubs to organize the watering of their lawns. The sector is trying to adapt. During the first day of Ligue 1, last weekend, the large brown spots visible on the grass at the Stade de la Mosson, in Montpellier, defied the observers, who in recent years have become accustomed to the perfect lawns of the French championship. And ahead of the second day of Ligue 1 club Lorient were also concerned about their land, which had been damaged by drought, and a joint celebration. Le Moustoir must be inspected on Thursday and Friday by the authorities before the reception for Lyon on Sunday (1 pm).

In Herault, it is a fungus in question, the vesicle, which has also appeared in recent weeks elsewhere in France, such as the Aube stage in Troyes. “It is a fungus that reproduces especially in periods of high temperatures, but at the moment, the temperature in the core of the field can rise to 50 degrees.‘, details David Garneren, Sports Responsible for Trois-Champagne Metropole (TCM), which manages stadium maintenance.”It was all there: a little grass that needed a lot of water, temperatures that didn’t drop at night, and heat that lasted. While last summer was less hot, there were no problems‘ continues Bertrand Ute, president of landscape spaces for the conglomerate, which manages the stadium’s gardens.

At the same time, clubs have to deal with water restrictions decided by provinces in many regions of the country, which have been put on drought alert at various levels. If watering green spaces or filling private swimming pools is prohibited in the event of a drought alert, football, like other outdoor sports, benefits from the exemption, for the most part, with strict restrictions on watering schedules, which is prohibited in the middle of the day. but “sh”Grass that lacks water will develop less, will turn yellow, brown, will absorb changes in direction less and will be more heterogeneous”, notes Sebastien Cotat, Business Director of the Sparfel Group, which equips and maintains several professional club stadiums.

For now, we’re holding on. In Brest or Caen, water only at night is not a big problem. We suffer a lot in Corsica‘, resumes the specialist, who is aware that these restrictions prevent the initiation of any renewal of the land, because”Young seedlings require a lot of water“.”You have to find the right balance, because the earth is the working tool‘, confirms Baptiste Malherbe, general manager of AJ Auxerre, which pumps its waters into the neighboring city of Yonne.But we are careful, we are as short as possible (Watering)”.

But suppliers, gardeners, game players and sports bodies have integrated these issues into the sector. Thus, hybrid turf, which is currently widely used in professional football, offers “Substrates with high water holding capacity’, says Bertrand Yotte, from Troyes. At Aube Stadium, the annual water consumption was 3,000 m3 in 2018. For comparison, the consumption of a nine-hole golf course is estimated at 25,000 m3 by the French Golf Federation.

Some clubs, such as Marseille and Lille, also use rainwater recovery systems in their stadiums, which Rennes intends to set up in the future training center. sustainable measures? Sector professionals do not hide the face: “Of course, this summer is exceptional, but we know this might just be the beginningSebastian Cotat admits.

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