A First for the World Cup: A Heated Hybrid Surface

FIFA has had, let’s face it, a lot of new experiences in the last few years. Some of those have been better than others. But in 2018, there will be another first when, for the first time, the World Cup final, being held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, will take place on a hybrid turf system.

The reasoning was simple, according to an article in SportTechie. It would be difficult for a natural field to survive Russia’s winter. Grass requires sunlight, warm air and water – and Russia’s climate is too severe to get a balance of those four ingredients.

So knowing the harsh conditions ahead, the venue has had to make adjustments. SIS Pitches, a British company, has installed a feld made of SISGrass – a natural turf reinforced pitch featuring synthetic fibers and SISAir technology. SISAir will help to work to manage the soil moisture and remove excess water that could come from Russia’s intense storms via a network of pipes that blows air under the field. It will also feature a heat management system to help keep the ground from freezing.

(As a side note, freezing ground is not expected to be a problem in Qatar in the following World Cup cycle.)

This is the first time a men’s World Cup final will have been played on anything but all-natural grass with a hybrid surface. Luzhniki Stadium will also be the site of group stage matches and a semifinal. SIS fields are also installed at Moscow’s Otkritie Arena, where the other semifinal will be played.

Ilyas Kobal, the managing director of SIS Pitches, said players likely will notice that “the pitch will be stronger, more durable and more predictable in its performance.”

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