FIFA Club World Cup

In a project that sees a number of innovative methods and processes never before used for sports pitch construction in the Middle East, White Horse Contractors is delivering international standard football pitches; including both tournament match pitches and training pitches; as well as the first full size rugby pitch, to the FIFA Club World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) in Abu Dhabi.

The fully integrated contract, managed by White Horse Contractors, sees the construction of facilities to be used for the 2009 and 2010 editions of the annual FIFA Club World Cup.

The contract covers two tournament stadia and six training facilities, each built to FIFA’s 105m x 68m specification.

In addition to these is a brand new pitch suitable for both football and rugby – the first rugby pitch in Abu Dhabi, providing a facility for show case rugby games – at the Emirates Palace Hotel. It is being constructed by White Horse Contractors on a greenfield site within the hotel’s grounds and it will become the new warm weather training ground for Manchester City FC’s players.

White Horse Contractors is working to tight timescales in order to deliver the pitches in a match-ready state for the forthcoming season. As a result innovative materials and methodologies to accelerate growing in have been identified and implemented where possible.

White Horse Contractors transported four articulated trucks, containing its own specialist plant and machinery, overland to Abu Dhabi in order to begin work on the sites. Travelling via Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the White Horse Contractors team negotiated all the attendant customs and borders issues in order to ensure its plant was onsite and ready to start work on time according to the build programme.

The Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (MBZ) has been completely re-built by White Horse Contractors. Its own purpose-designed laser grading trenching machine has been used to construct a new drainage system for the match pitch. This is believed to be the first time such an advanced machine has been used to facilitate football pitch drainage in the Middle East. Following final grading and cultivation of the pitch, the hydrosprigging, a process by which a mulch is sprayed onto the new grass surface, completed the construction operations and is the first time this technology has been used on sports pitches in the Middle East.

The second match pitch, the Zayed Sports City Stadium (ZSC) required significant and intensive renovation with new grass. White Horse Contractors removed the Bermuda grass surface using a Blec Combinator machine, cultivated the sand, re-levelled the surface using a laser grading box and applied a moisture retention element. The same hydrosprigging treatment to the Panamanian Paspalum was applied to the ZSC stadium too.

In addition the White Horse team will develop a series of high quality training pitches – including the Emirates Palace Hotel pitch for football and rugby – to support the development of football in the UAE and to support a legacy programme of developing infrastructure, skills and expertise in Abu Dhabi.

Work at Al Wahda Academy, the Officers Club and the Al Jazira training pitches is also underway. White Horse Contractors has introduced verti-draining to relieve soil compaction, verti-cutting to reduce the matting of surface roots, encouraging a more dense, vertically growing grass sward and top dressing to improve surface levels.

Stephen Greene, Contract Director from White Horse Contractors said: “Working in temperatures regularly exceeding 45-50ºC with very high humidity means the team needs to be flexible, working in the coolest parts of the day. This is against stringent timescales to ensure the pitches are ready for play in time for the new football season. Without an established supply chain we have had to identify every supplier required to deliver these pitches – diesel, transport, excavators, geotextiles, hydromulch, irrigation. Effectively White Horse Contractors has developed an international business unit, to facilitate the delivery of this very prestigious project in the Middle East.”

Key stakeholders in the scheme are the UAE Football Association (UAE FA), the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) and the Executive Affairs Authority (EAA) of Abu Dhabi.

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