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Lionel Messi denied pitch change request by MLS rival ahead of Inter Miami fixture

Lionel Messi denied pitch change request by MLS rival ahead of Inter Miami fixture

He won't be happy.

Lionel Messi’s request to not play on an artificial pitch while in the MLS has seemingly been denied.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has made quite the impact in his first two Inter Miami outings. Messi netted a match-winning stoppage-time free kick on his debut against Cruz Azul, before claiming a brace and an assist in a 4-0 win over Atlanta United.

And some of the 36-year-old’s MLS rivals are refusing to give the player any potential advantage moving forward.

Indeed, one MLS club is refusing to install grass at their stadium, despite Messi’s alleged reluctance to play on artificial turf. A school of thought argues that artificial surfaces have more traction than grass and in turn, lead to more injuries.

Six MLS sides currently play on a synthetic surface, but it had been mooted by the league’s chief, Don Garber, that teams could make adjustments ahead of the Argentine’s arrival.

However, the hierarchy at Charlotte FC are resisting any calls for grass to be installed at the Bank of America Stadium ahead of their October 21 match against Miami.

Speaking to The Charlotte Observer a spokesperson for the club confirmed the decision to stick to an artificial surface, despite grass having temporarily been installed for an exhibition match versus Premier League side Chelsea, as well as two USMNT clashes.

The spokesperson said: "All of our Major League Soccer matches are scheduled to be played on turf. There is no plan to change to natural grass."

MLS commissioner Garber previously told The Athletic that he expected clubs to potentially make some adjustments to allow for Messi’s demands.

He stated: "That’s going to be the decision of every club when they do travel to those stadiums that don’t have natural grass.

"My expectations are that that’s what they will do, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to figure all of that out. MLS promotes a lot of international games and we have been able to bring natural grass into those stadiums, but we’ve never done that for a regular season game."

Before the season’s end, Miami are also due to play Atlanta at their Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 16, which has an artificial surface installed.

Before the All-Stars game against Arsenal earlier this month, Atlanta president and CEO Garth Lagerwey also seemingly refused to budge on the issue and dismissed suggestions artificial pitches were unsafe.

When asked about the surface, he said via the Mirror: "You can ask [Inter Miami coach Tata Martino], he is familiar with the quality of our turf. He can explain to his players how good and safe it is to play at our stadium."

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Football, Inter Miami, MLS, Lionel Messi