Thursday July 18 2019

The biggest cleaning and maintenance howlers in the world of sport

James Patefield

JAMES PATEFIELD | Outreach PR Executive

The biggest cleaning and maintenance howlers in the world of sport

You never notice when it goes according to plan, and it’s painfully noticeable when there’s an error.

There’s no denying that sports venues are notoriously difficult to clean, with DPM Care likening the job to “cleaning up after a party attended by thousands.” First of all, there’s food stains to combat, then there’s all the floors to clean, changing rooms to wash down and this is before the pitch is suitably prepared to play on. The conditions of a stadium can tell you a lot about a team, so it’s crucial that standards are high. In fact, Newcastle United fans have recently aired their disappointment over the apparently unclean state of St James’ Park. With photos doing the rounds on social media of stained walls, dirty toilets, and damp marks, it’s evident that the home ground’s presentation is imperative not only for the sport, but the fans as well. Of course, it’s a hefty task to undertake, but an important one nonetheless.

When mistakes happen however (and they can happen), the results can be quite extraordinary! In this article, alongside Fulcare, suppliers of refuse sacks and other wholesale cleaning products, we explore a pick of some of the biggest cleaning and maintenance mishaps that have occurred at sports events and arenas across the globe…


1.      Thinking a little too far outside the box: maintaining a wet pitch


Anyone will tell you that checking your work is important. But, as a result of not putting the tarp down properly, staff at Citizens Bank Park needed a quick fix to dry out the field enough for play.

Initially, heaters were deployed in an effort to dry the pitch. After that failed, the situation took the next, tentative step up — flamethrowers. Yes, groundsmen were photographed tending to the damp pitch with flamethrowers, much to the amusement of Twitter.

Thankfully, the ground was seemingly too waterlogged to ignite. Unfortunately, the ground was still wet after the fiery solution.


2.      Always read the label: maintaining a golf course


In 2008, a groundsman at Haywards Heath Golf Club in Sussex managed to accidentally kill all the grassy fairways on the club’s course. The Telegraph reported on the mishap, stating that 11 holes were destroyed on the course during the incident.

You will of course be wondering how such a calamitous mistake happened? Well, when tidying up fairways, it’s common for groundsmen to use a light weed-killer to keep the short grass in top condition. But the groundsmen used Gallup 360, which is an industrial-strength herbicide. Oops.

This subsequently resulted in swathes of dead, brown grass across the course. It stands to reason that even professionals should pause to read the warning label!



3.      When sweeping-lines align: cleaning a clay court


It would appear that the groundsmen at the French Open were not aware that a good tip for life and work is to always be aware of your surroundings, so you can adjust if necessary. At the start of 2018, three groundsmen were snapped as they cleaned the clay court. The clay ground of the tennis court needs to be swept in order to keep it level. It also helps to prevent any clay building up around the fences.

So, although the groundsmen were doing a good job, unfortunately, they were also creating quite a worrying image in the clay. The unfortunate positioning of the three as they swept in grand arcs over the clay caused the resulting sweep-marks to take on the image of something a little phallic. It didn’t last long, and the unintentional work of art was removed before the games began.

But not before it appeared all over the internet.



4.      A splash of green: cleaning Rio de Janeiro’s swimming pool


The swimming pools at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio hit the headlines when not one, but two swimming pools turned a mysterious emerald green colour. For a while, theories ran rampant in looking for the cause of the water’s strange hue. Was it algae? Heat? Dirt? Reflecting something?

Despite complaints from the water polo players about itchy eyes, the water was deemed still safe to use. Later, event organisers cited the incorrect use of hydrogen peroxide as the cause of the pool’s swampy tones. Hydrogen peroxide is indeed used to clean swimming pools, but it also neutralises chlorine. This in turn leads to algae appearing in the pool. It’s definitely a mishap when cleaning something makes it worse!

However, not everyone agreed that hydrogen peroxide was the culprit, with others speculating that copper sulphate caused not only the green coloured water, but the unpleasant smell too.



In conclusion, what have these mishaps taught us? First, make sure you know how chemicals will react when combined. Secondly, always, always read the label on products. Thirdly, keep an eye on what is going on around you. And lastly…if you need to resort to a flamethrower to try to clean or maintain anything, it’s a lost cause.













"Cleaning up after a party attended by thousands"
DPM Care

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