Qatar’s World Cup turf needs cooled stadiums and desalinated water to thrive

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A general view shows the Al Janoub Stadium built for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer championship during a stadium tour in Al Wakrah, Qatar December 16, 2019. REUTERS/Corinna Kern/File Photo

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DOHA, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Winter will come early to scorching Qatar’s football stadiums as gardeners blow fresh air from September to ensure turf thrives in the desert country for the World Cup. world.

Mimicking winter in the Gulf state, where temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the fall, is just one trick experts have introduced over the past 14 years to improve the turf quality and increase the number of football pitches.

An elite corps of gardeners now maintains 144 lush green grounds: eight stadium grounds and 136 training grounds. They blow cooled air through nozzles directly onto the turf, maintaining lush patches of green dotted amid sand or desert gray and Qatari concrete.

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“Weather and climate conditions, as well as the level of performance criteria we have set ourselves, make it extremely difficult to develop the product we need. But we succeeded,” said Haitham Al Shareef, a civil engineer from Sudan. who worked on the grounds of Qatar. since 2007.

Preparing the turf for the World Cup, which is taking place in the Middle East for the first time, is costly for the environment.

Qatar flies 140 tons of grass seeds from the United States a year in air-conditioned planes, Al Shareef said, and the pitches are sprayed with desalinated seawater, in an energy-intensive process burning wealth. in the country’s natural gas.

Each location requires 10,000 liters of desalinated water per day in winter and 50,000 liters in summer, he added.

NORMAL WEAR

The 28-day event begins in November, at perhaps the toughest time of year for sustainable turf, as Qatar’s climate changes from scorching summer to mild winter.

Some grass varieties go dormant as temperatures rise and winter ryegrass takes root, making it difficult to grow adequately between matches.

“When you have wear and tear, you want the grass to keep growing to recover,” Al Shareef said. “If you sow the ground too early, you’ll have some sprouting, but the winter grass won’t really grow, it will actually die because it’s too hot.”

So gardeners trigger winter in September, seeding the pitches with ryegrass in a practice that for the past three years has produced long-lasting pitches.

Qatar has also thwarted the risk of fungal and disease outbreaks with a maintenance regime involving chemical cocktails, lawnmowers that suck up debris and an underground system that sucks up excess moisture, a man said. UEFA field consultant.

“You are an epidemic after failure,” said consultant Dean Gilasbey, who has trained gardeners around the world.

Qatar says it is ready for any territorial emergency.

A 425,000 square meter grass stash – roughly 40 football pitches – grows on a farm north of Doha.

It can be harvested, trucked to a stadium and dropped off ready to play in just eight hours, said Mohamed Al Atwaan, who worked as a project manager on Stadium 974.

Organizers declined to say how much the turf program cost Qatar, a wealthy gas exporter that has spent billions on infrastructure over the past decade to prepare for the event.

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Reporting and writing by Andrew Mills; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous, John Stonestreet, William Maclean

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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