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Dutch turf begins journey to German World Cup stadiums

Written by: Staff

AMSTERDAM, May 5 (Reuters) Harvesting of the turf for seven of Germany's 12 World Cup stadiums begins next week at a closely-guarded farm in the Netherlands.

News that their arch soccer-rivals would provide the grass for the tournament starting on June 9 stoked fury in the German media and prompted turf manufacturer Hendriks Graszoden to keep the location of the grass a secret in case of sabotage.

''It was a big shock in Germany, with German papers saying 'we've lost already if we have to play on Dutch grass','' said John Hendriks, one of four brothers managing the business in the east of the country.

Turf for the other five stadiums will be sourced in Germany.

While stressful, it was an honour to be supplying turf for the world's biggest soccer tournament, said Hendriks who has spent a year cultivating the grass on a farm the size of 450 stadiums.

''We started 30 years ago and went from producing turf for family gardens, step by step, to making grass for stadiums.'' Specialist machinery can strip a field of turf and roll it up within 30 minutes so it can be transported in as fresh a condition as possible in a fleet of up to 20 trucks per stadium.

''To keep it as cool as possible it will travel overnight,'' said a company spokeswoman. The cost of each stadium's supply of turf is yet another closely-kept secret.

The distances the grass must travel range from just 90 minutes to Dortmund in the west of Germany to more than nine hours to Munich.

For that journey the grass will be put in special refrigerated trucks.

''The Germans also have good grass but the stadiums we are supplying are long-standing customers and they have confidence in our company,'' the spokeswoman said.

''Dutch grass is just that one bit better,'' she joked.

Reuters PG RN2039

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