Watch | Sligo man George Mullen to play key role at FIFA World Cup in Russia

It has been confirmed that Sligo based global pitch specialists SIS Pitches has installed the pitch for the much-anticipated 2018 World Cup Final in Russia.

SIS Pitches was selected to design, construct and install six of the 12 pitches to be used at the World Cup finals, including at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The Luzhniki Stadium will host the opening game, the opening ceremony, a semi-final as well as the World Cup Final itself. This is the first time that a World Cup Final has ever been played on anything but all-natural grass. Russia 2018 starts on June 14 – one month from today.

SIS Pitches is a world leader in synthetic and natural sports surfacing and is one of the world’s largest sports pitch companies.

The global pitch specialists lay grass and synthetic pitches and sports surfaces at world-class stadiums around the globe. SIS Pitches was set up in 2001 by CEO George Mullan, who directs the company from Sligo. 

The use of the company’s sophisticated reinforced natural turf system, called SISGrass, as well as its revolutionary aeration technology, SISAir, will make the Luzhniki Stadium the most technologically advanced pitch in World Cup history.

The company is in the process of having each pitch independently certified to FIFA’s quality standards before SIS Pitches formally hands over three of the pitches to stadium management, who will handle all of its maintenance. Otkritie Arena, the home of Spartak Moscow, and Rostov Arena have already been handed over and SIS Pitches will continue to maintain Luzhniki Stadium throughout the World Cup, with a crew of five people based at the stadium for the tournament.

SIS Pitches Founder and CEO George Mullan said, “It was an absolute honour to have been chosen to not only design, construct and install the pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium but at six of the 12 World Cup venues – working on more pitches than any other company. 

“It’s the first time a World Cup Final has been played on anything but all-natural grass. SISGrass was only launched in 2015 and already it has been installed at a number of world-class stadiums and now the 2018 World Cup Final will be played on it. The quality of SISGrass will ensure that the pitches are resilient in all conditions, and I am sure the 2018 World Cup finals will be one that we will always remember.

“We are delighted with the decision and that our investment in setting up an office in Russia five years ago, combined with completing new stadium pitches for Spartak Moscow and Krasnodar in the last few years has been rewarded. Our Russian staff have done a superb job.”

As well as Luzhniki Stadium, the other five pitches which have been installed — or are in the process of being installed — by SIS Pitches are:

Otkritie Arena; home of FC Spartak Moscow, this 45,000-seater stadium will host Lionel Messi and his Argentinian teammates in their opener against World Cup debutants Iceland.
Rostov Arena; the 45,000-seater stadium, which will host five World Cup encounters including Brazil’s opening game against Switzerland on June 17, is located at Rostov-on-Don.
Kaliningrad Stadium; the 35,000-seater stadium will host four group stage games, including England’s final group game against Belgium on June 28.
Samara Arena; Built specially as a venue for the World Cup, Samara has a capacity of just under 45,000 and will host four first round games, one round 16 match and one quarter final.
Saransk Arena; located in Mordovia, Saransk Arena has a capacity of 45,000 and will host four of the first-round games including Peru v Denmark on June 6.

SISGrass has been installed at all pitches with SISAir at Luzhniki, Otkritie and Rostov.

Some 30 of the 32 teams will play on SISGrass during the first-round games, with Serbia and Demark playing all three opening games on a SISGrass surface. Sweden and Egypt are the only two teams who will progress to the knockout stages without playing on SIS Pitches hybrid technology.

SIS Pitches also installed three training pitches at Luzhniki, one at Samara and one in Tolyatti, which is being used as a base by the Swiss national team.

Outside of the World Cup, the company continues to deliver exceptional sports surfaces for schools, colleges, universities, sports clubs and local authorities in Ireland and around the world.

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