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FIFA UPDATE


n December 2018, Real Madrid made FIFA Club World Cup history by winning the tournament for a third successive time in the Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi. But Los Blanco’s weren’t the only history makers. The tournament was also the first time pitches were delivered under the guidance of FIFA’s newly appointed Senior Pitch Management Manager, Alan Ferguson.


I His appointment is one of several within


the Stadium and Infrastructure department which will cover all FIFA tournaments and support the 2020 Olympic football tournament in Japan. Being the smallest of


the FIFA World Cups, the Club World Cup offered an ideal opportunity for Alan and his new colleagues to try out some of the procedures and techniques they hope to use worldwide in future FIFA managed tournaments.


Despite the relatively small scale of the tournament compared to other FIFA competitions, there were still plenty of challenges for Alan and the team because the same venues used for the Club World Cup needed to be fully match ready to host the 2019 Asia Cup two weeks after the final of the Club World Cup. However, this wasn’t the only issue facing


the new team. The Zayed Sports City Stadium also had to host Abu Dhabi’s 47th annual National Day celebrations seventeen days before the semi-final, causing venue changes for fixtures and placing a greater strain on the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, the only other venue chosen to host Club World Cup games.


These issues were then further compounded by having to use much of the native fine sand in the pitch construction. Unlike the angular sands commonly found and used in pitch construction across Europe, the round particle sand does not provide the stability associated with angular


PC April/May 2019 41


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