Finding the perfect pitch for 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™️

By March 12, 2018

During the ESSMA Summit Pitch Management Seminar Yasser Al Mulla, Landscape & Sport Turf Management Senior Manager Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), highlighted the specific challenges ahead and how they guarantee pitch quality for the 2022 FIFA World Cup QatarTM.


In total, there are 48 training sites and 8 stadiums which will be used during the 2022 World Cup. Al Mulla explained that the main challenges of the stadiums are the air-conditioning and the shade, as half of the pitch is constantly shaded because of the roofs to shield fans from the sun. To tackle these challenges, SC decided to build their own R&D centre, the Aspire Sport Turf (AST), to create a signature pitch that can be used in summer and winter. 


SC pitch development programme

The SC pitch development programme components include: Operations & Logistics, Design & Construction, R&D, testing, programme scheduling and re-surfacing trials.


For approximately two years, the AST has been conducting tests and specialised R&D in their turf farm facility, measuring how different grass species grow and react in the harsh Qatari climate. 24 different types of grass have been tested to find the ideal pitch. Furthermore, there are different testing conditions: with 30% and 70% shade test areas.


A pitch takes 12 months from seeding to perfect quality.”


To ensure pitch quality in every venue, SC developed an end-to-end management and maintenance process with four main key aspects:

  • From turf farm to World Cup: with the development of a centralised turf management programme
  • Rigorous templates for contractors: with comprehensive pitch management and maintenance
  • Training with regard to design, construction and management: every staff member working on the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ turf surface will be trained to the highest international standards
  • Ongoing testing: with a detailed testing plan for each venue


Khalifa International Stadium

The Khalifa International Stadium was re-turfed in a record time of 13.5 hours with a team of 40 specialists and eight machines. In total an area of 7,848m2 40mm-thick turf rolls were harvested from the Aspire Turf farm.


As part of a testing programme to see how many World Cup matches the signature pitch could take, SC organised a Pitch Test exercise. They planned six matches and six training sessions over a period of twelve days to assess the pitch quality. Key considerations taken away from the exercise such as over-seeding of rye grass have been included in the further development of the SC’s R&D programme.


The key learnings showed that the SC’s signature pitch model can deliver high performance; with the climate determined, and as a valuable reference site, the Khalifa test provided valuable data.


Interview with Yasser Al Mulla:


Go to our ESSMA Flickr account for more pictures.


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