US club decline request to favour Messi

 Charlotte FC will not be catering to Lionel Messi when he visits later this season, the club said, following speculation that Bank of America Stadium would be converted to a grass playing surface for his arrival.

The site, which Charlotte FC shares with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, is one of six in MLS that uses artificial turf.

And while the surface is not commonplace in Europe – and considered dangerous by some – Charlotte said it won’t be making any changes for its match vs. Messi’s inter Miami on October 21.

“All of our Major League Soccer matches are scheduled to be played on turf,” a Charlotte FC spokesperson told The Charlotte Observer via email.

‘There is no plan to change to natural grass.’

Previously, MLS Commission­er, Don Garber, told The Athletic that ‘my expectations’ were that clubs hosting Messi will tempo­rarily switch to grass if they don’t play on it already.

That also includes Atlanta United, who will welcome Messi to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 16.

Notably, there is previous prec­edent – quite recently – for Bank of America Stadium using grass temporarily.

As noted by NBC Charlotte, the club switched to the surface for last year’s friendly against Chelsea.

It also did so for two Gold Cup matches earlier in July, which included the USA vs. Trinidad and Tobago.

But Charlotte may not want to give Miami what they could feel is an advantage, especially given the date of the game.

The Herons’ trip to Charlotte will come on the last day of the regular season, and with Char­lotte currently four points below the postseason line, it’s certainly possible that they’ll need a result in the final match.

Miami is even further behind in the table, with 18 points the worst in the league currently.


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