Once the curtain is raised, the stage must be in perfect condition. This is the task facing the Local Organising Committee (LOC) when the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ gets underway next year – to ensure that the greatest stars in the world have pitches of the highest quality at their disposal, both on matchdays and at the Official Training Centres (OTCs).
With this in mind, the LOC this week held the third Seminar on the Preparation of Pitches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil in Sao Paulo, so that the host cities of next year's showpiece have all the information they need in order to create, renovate and care for pitches of the highest standard.
The opening of the event took place this Thursday 31 October at the historic Pacaembu stadium, one of the Official Training Centres for the World Cup. There were representatives from the Local Organising Committee, FIFA, STRI, the company which provides FIFA with consultancy services in relation to pitches, and 154 representatives from the tournament’s host cities.
Ricardo Trade, LOC CEO, said how important it is that both games and training sessions at Brazil 2014 take place on pitches of the highest quality.
“A well looked after pitch can have a significant effect on the performance of an athlete, and mean the difference between winning and losing for his team," said Trade. "We want visitors to Brazil to experience excellent playing surfaces.”
The first part of the seminar was given over to technical presentations. Maristela Kuhn of Arena, a company which provides the LOC with consultancy services in relation to stadiums and facilities, said that the next World Cup would be very different from previous editions. Due to the enormous size of Brazil, games at next year’s World Cup will take place in hot, rainy climates in the north and north east, and in much chillier weather in the south.
“Analysis of climate is the first step in the strategy of creating, renovating or maintaining a high quality pitch," said Kuhn. "Brazil has a wide range of climatic conditions. There will be some regions where there will be lots of rain, and others where there is frost on the grass.”
Andy Cole, an Englishman and pitch expert from STRI, talked about how important it is that training centre pitches are of the same quality as those on which matches are played, in order to guarantee the high performance of the players.
“In my opinion, the quality of the pitches used for training is even more important than those used for games, as they’ll suffer greater wear and tear,” said Cole.
After the morning lectures, those participating in the seminar had the chance to observe pitch-care techniques at ten stands on the Pacaembu pitch. Information was provided about techniques adopted in the different aspects of caring for pitches, and there were demonstrations of machinery used for the planting and maintenance of grass.
This Friday 1 November, on the last day of the third Seminar on the Preparation of Pitches, individual meetings will take place between the LOC technical committee and host city representatives to discuss individual plans for training centre and stadium pitches for the 2014 World Cup Brazil. The next edition of the event will be in March 2014.