Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ice and Lightning, or, The Weather Hates France

Lightning stops play! On Friday night, the Euro 2012 group stage match between France and Ukraine was suspended for the best part of an hour because of a thunderstorm directly above the stadium. It was pretty exciting. But it wasn't the first time this year that an important France game was suspended due to bad weather; their rugby match against Ireland in the Six Nations was completely rescheduled because the pitch had frozen solid.

Usually matches are only suspended, as in the rugby case, for safety reasons (generally if there's something wrong with the pitch making conditions extra sticky or slippery), but on Friday it was far more dramatic: evidently an official had calculated there was a bona fide chance of Franck Ribéry getting a jolt between the eyes. Rather than keep going to see if the extra electricity managed to jump start the play and get a few tasty goals in, the ref ushered the delicate players indoors, poor lambs.

The rain was as dramatic as the lightning, the grass oozing into a network of tributaries within seconds. Thankfully, the pro pitch has a drainage system so advanced it'd make a human urinary tract blush, and proceedings could get going again once the storm had passed.

But again last night, the rain falling on the match between Poland and Czech Rep was so heavy at times that it looked as if the players would be washed away, clinging wanly to floating goal posts and wondering if they might not get a free kick out of it. There were moments when I asked myself if Stadion Miejski was, in fact, a large bath waiting to be filled.

But the match went on, eventually seeing Czech Rep de-soggy themselves enough to make it to the quarter-finals in good time. Not so for France and Ukraine, whose places in the next stage are yet to be cemented or denied, a spot of rogue static notwithstanding.

Poor France. If there is a weather-controlling God (though I've always thought that worrying about storms and sunshine would smack a little of micromanagement on the part of The Creator), He's clearly quite riled up about French matches at the moment. We shall have to hope France don't make it to the final, otherwise that could well be the last we see of the ice caps.

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