FIFA to Give Olympic Stadium Artificial Pitch

FIFA, football’s international governing body, will fund a project that will see the playing surface of Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium torn up and replaced with artificial grass, officials confirmed Wednesday.

The upgrade—proposed by the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) and approved by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport—is to be paid for with $500,000 that FIFA will donate as part of its “Goal Project” to assist the development of member associations, said Khiev Samet, vice president of the FFC. Cambodia has been a FIFA member since 1954.

People exercise Wednesday on the track surrounding the football pitch at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium, which will be resurfaced with artificial turf after the rainy season. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
People exercise Wednesday on the track surrounding the football pitch at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium, which will be resurfaced with artificial turf after the rainy season. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“It’s a good decision because there is only one place to play [domestic football league matches] and it is played on too much and the grass cannot be sustained,” said Mr. Samet, adding that the development should begin later this month and be completed by March, delaying the beginning of the football season by about a month.

The notoriously unpredictable surface is used throughout the domestic football season, with numerous games sometimes played at the venue on the same day.

Sam Schweingruber, who coached Phnom Penh Crown FC to the domestic championship last season, said upgrading to an artificial surface would prove beneficial to the quality of football played at Olympic Stadium.

“There has been studies that show the development of football is closely linked to the development of fields, so improving the playing field will very quickly help players improve their game,” he said.

Mr. Schweingruber said he suspected the state of the current pitch is responsible for a number of injuries among his squad.

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