Hayes demands undersoil heating after Chelsea v Liverpool WSL game suspended after six minutes

By Sports Desk January 22, 2023

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes said it is time for stadiums hosting top-level women's football to have undersoil heating after her side's game with Liverpool was suspended after just six minutes on Sunday.

Despite pitch inspections at Kingsmeadow earlier in the day that deemed the surface playable, the referee abandoned the Women's Super League clash when it became apparent the pitch was too frozen.

While it was broadly agreed to be the correct decision as players had been slipping on the surface, questions were asked as to why the game was allowed to go ahead in the first place and why stadiums that host WSL games are not all equipped with pitch heating facilities.

"You could see from the opening minutes that it was like an ice rink down the sides," Hayes told BBC Sport after the game was stopped. "[Liverpool manager] Matt Beard was upset that it even got to that point and he's right.

"We have to say to ourselves that it's time for undersoil heating. We've got to take our game seriously. Yes, we can have our blowers and pitch tents, but it's not enough.

"The game should never have started. Everyone wanted to get the game on, but when you have got emotions of teams wanting or not wanting to play, that's when you need a decision from above. The FA weren't here, they need to be making the decision.

"We've made progress with investment into the quality of grasses and surfaces across the league. No game at the top level of the women's game should be cancelled. We need undersoil heating, we don't live in Barbados."

Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema took to Twitter to lament the decision to postpone that game as well as Tottenham's clash with Leicester City due to cold weather, posting: "Players safety should always come first. Luckily no one got injured today.

"Only way to fix this is to demand undersoil heating or playing our games in men's stadiums. FA and clubs, please do better."

The Dutch star was quote-tweeted by Liverpool's Katie Stengel, who wrote: "I heard Stamford Bridge was wide open today."

Chelsea's Fran Kirby also gave her thoughts on Twitter, adding: "Apologies to both sets of fans who travelled today. Players safety should always be the number one priority. Luckily no one was injured today and the right decision was taken eventually. Women's football deserves better and we won't stop fighting to make that happen"

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