Participants at a special workshop in Moscow discussed pitch management for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

What are the essential ingredients of a football game? The players, the goalposts, the ball and, of course, the pitch. And the better the quality, the better the match itself. A special workshop hosted by the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC) in Moscow on 26-27 January focused on preparations for pitches at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ stadiums, as well as those at training sites and Team Base Camps (TBCs). More than 150 people took part in the event, including representatives of the LOC, FIFA, local authorities, pitch owners and managers, pitch technicians and contractors.

“It is vital that the sharing of experiences and exchanging of expertise at these meetings and workshops are of significant value not only in terms of holding the tournament itself, but also from the point of view of its legacy,” said Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the Russia 2018 LOC. “All football pitches – at World Cup stadiums, training grounds and TBCs – will bring such a legacy, and will be used after the World Cup – not only by professional teams, but by ordinary Russian football fans.”

As for previous editions of the FIFA World Cup, pitch quality is one of the organisers’ utmost priorities. One of the main goals of the workshop was to explain the essence of these requirements, how to achieve them, and how complying with them will be monitored. As a new initiative to support the stadium and training sites authorities, FIFA has also handed a summary of the Pitch Management Handbook to all participants of the workshop.

“There is an extensive scientific research behind the preparation and maintenance of the 114 pitches required for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Training centre pitches are equally important and must be of the same quality as those on which matches are played in order to ensure optimum player performance and safety”, says FIFA Competitions Director, Colin Smith. “The pitch management workshops provide a great opportunity to share and transfer information vital to the success of both FIFA competitions here in Russia. Only the highest quality pitches possible allow players to perform at their best, meaning fantastic games and entertainment for the billions of football fans watching all over the world‎.”

The 114 pitches at the players' and referees' disposal for training sessions and matches of the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup are the 12 stadiums, 36 venue specific training sites, 64 team base camps and two referees training sites. In October 2015, specialists from the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) – the LOC's consultants on pitch management who have also been involved in previous editions of the FIFA World Cup – visited all of these grounds, providing detailed reports on all pitches and expert commentary on how to improve them.

FIFA Confederations Cup focus
The four main FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 grounds – stadiums in Kazan, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi – will undergo full checks next year, and so the workshop gave special attention to the preparation of these venues. Despite there being 16 months before the Confederations Cup kicks off, extensive work is already underway to ensure high quality pitches will be ready on time. It is important to note, for instance, that turf for pitches holding Confederations Cup matches must be sown by the end of 2016.

Specialists sharing their knowledge at the workshop highlighted the need for early planning and risk minimisation as one of the most important elements of the pitch management process, particularly given the unpredictability of the weather. According to them, whatever conditions faced must not make a difference to the quality of the pitch nor the players' performance – being this one of the challenges found when preparing high quality pitches.

For more information on pitch management for the FIFA World Cup, click here.