Vladimir Leonov: 'New turf at Kazan Arena is due to host the national team of Russia this year'

When Rubin Kazan will be able to host its rivals in the Russian Football Championships at Kazan Arena

Dutch specialists have been working at the stadium that was built for the coming World Cup at Kazan Arena for almost one month. Works on turf laying are about to finish, and the best players of the world will step onto it in 10 months. Realnoe Vremya tells how much time the football blanket will endure.

Sources of optimism

The turf has been laid, and the works on sewing are at its height. These synthetic threads allow the pitch to serve for a longer time than its predecessors. The Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport of the Republic of Tatarstan Vladimir Leonov welcomed a correspondent of Realnoe Vremya at Kazan Arena in order to do an excursion at the stadium that is tinkering before the most important tournaments in its history:

'After the last FIFA inspection at the end of spring, we were recommended to renew the turf we had at Kazan Arena. This sewing technology was offered. The upper layer of soil was stripped. The pitch was completely sown. Now we can see greener stripes — it is an absolutely new sewing technology that completely strengthens the turf,' told the Minister.

DES company has worked at hundreds of stadiums, including the legendary Wembley, Etihad, Emirates, Leicester, Donbass Arena. However, the Dutchmen have appeared in Russia recently. Natural turf sewing technology with synthetic threads has been used for the first time recently at CSKA's finished stadium and at Krasnodar's stadium whose construction is about to end. But the Kazan stadium has been the pioneer among the pitches that will host the World Cup matches. The turf at other stadiums will also be sewed by the WC held at home.

'It is the latest technology. We apply it at Kazan Arena and want to use the stadium in a long-term perspective.' Photo: Maksim Platonov

'Nowadays DES has rich experience,' continued Leonov. 'If my memory doesn't fail me, they have 600 stadiums that adopted this technology. It is important that they have worked in similar climate conditions. We are speaking about Great Britain too. No queries were received from organisers and athletes. And today together with Kazan Arena and the 2018 WC Organising Committee, we are thinking about not only how to lay turf but also how to care about it. The company gives its recommendations in this respect.'

But in practice, why is this turf better than the previous one?

'It is a synthetic thread that sews the internal turf. It completely strengthens the base. Natural turf correlates with the synthetic one and supports it. In general, when specialists touch it, they feel no difference. It is the latest technology. We apply it at Kazan Arena and want to use the stadium in a long-term perspective due to these technologies, not from season to season. This is why it is important to follow all processes.

Thanks to the job done by specialists, we are keeping to our schedule. In other words, how we planned, how the turf will adapt, when machines will come — everything is in time.'

Is this project financed by the federal or regional budget?

It is financed by the World Cup preparation programme. Generally speaking, together with the sowing and sewing, this pitch is equal to 50m rubles. We have 47,5m rubles from the federal budget as well. And 2,5m is a cofinancing from Tatarstan. It is a common practice. And WC stadiums receive similar amounts of money for pitches.

Artifical thread sews the internal turf. It completely strengthens the base.

When Rubin will be able to come back here?

Two machines work here per day. They sew two stripes. I will say we will have finished this work by the end of August. We will have one sowing more. And then we will see when the first match takes place.

We will hold a meeting, look at the calendar, consider all pros and cons because here we have no right to make a mistake. It is important that the corresponding, the best turf be here in Kazan, at the most prepared stadium of our country.

Rubin is famous for moving from stadium to stadium. May we say the team will finally return to Kazan Arena after the implementation of this pitch?

It is clear that it is necessary to play on this pitch in order to 'keep its shape'. And, by the way, we plan to organise one of the friendlies of the national team of the country at our stadium. We are holding negotiations with the Russian Football Union. I think we will play here this year. For this reason, not only Rubin matches will take place here.

What else will be done by the FIFA Confederations Cup?

The stadium has almost adapted to hold international tournaments. Its heart — turf — is the main thing to be fine-tuned. Almost all rooms located under the stands work here non-stop. As for the very tournaments, there will be temporary constructions here during the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. We have already done a similar job — the area will be landscaped, there will be access areas, a transport fleet, broadcasting centre for TV workers. But these are temporary facilities. Generally speaking, Kazan Arena is ready for tournaments. And now, in addition, it will have a more progressive turf. So, welcome.

Generally speaking, together with the sowing and sewing, this pitch is equal to 50m rubles

Speaking about the changes inside the stadium, I've noted railings in the sectors behind the post that fans were complaining about were taken away. Have the fans been heard?

Yes. It is one of the innovations. The club and we wanted to set a plastic fencing instead of these railings. And special heaters designed to heat sectors because not always matches take place in such favourable conditions like today are the second innovation. Undoubtedly, many thanks to the club — it was their initiative. We constantly talk to them in order to make football maximum comfortable for those who play on the pitch and those who are in the stands.

By Erik Dobrolyubov. Photo: tatar-inform.ru