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Dublin: 19 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

Westmeath has over 75,000 reasons to tune into the World Cup tonight

Irish manufacturing company Mergon has produced all of the seats at the Maracanã Stadium.

On overhead shots of fans at the Maracana stadium during Colombia versus Uruguay.
On overhead shots of fans at the Maracana stadium during Colombia versus Uruguay.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

WHAT BEGAN WITH a phone-call between Baden-Württemberg and Westmeath ends at the Maracanã Stadium this evening.

Irish company Mergon secured a contract, back in 2011, to manufacture all of the seats for the Brazilian stadium that will host tonight’s World Cup final. The venue, with the Irish-made seats, will also be the focal point for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Caolan Bushell, Mergon’s business development manager, spoke with about sun-block for seats, working with flame-throwers and a missing out on a massive hooley to Rio de Janeiro.

He said, “We are primarily involved in technical plastic molding solutions for the auto, industrial and healthcare sectors. The German architects of the Maracanã, Eheim, approached us to manufacture the seats as they knew we had knowledge and expertise in that area. They had faith that we were the right people for the job.”

World Cup Instagram Every one of these seats will be occupied by expectant fans this evening. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Although Mergon have a manufacturing plant in the United States, the bulk of the production work took place in Westmeath and in the Czech Republic. One of the deal-clinchers was the company’s ability to produce flame-retardant polypropylene [a versatile plastic].

Bushell commented, “FIFA had that [flame-retardant] requirement for the seats. The last thing they want is for a hooligan with a blow-torch to set a seat on fire and lob it out onto the pitch. That, of course, is worst-case scenario stuff.”

How does one test if a seat is fire-proof? Bushell responds, “We cut out a sample of 100x100ml and subject it to a blow-torch test in a laboratory.” Nice work if you can get it.

The other selling point for Mergon is the ultra-violet inhibitors they have built into their seats. Bushell points out that many of the seats at Croke Park lack this additive and have faded badly in recent years. The seats installed at the Maracanã are guaranteed not to fade in the Brazilian sun for 15 years.

Mergon staff, Bushell explains, enjoyed the seating project but delivered the final seats back in March 2013. By World Cup stadium-building standards, that is remarkably efficient. Staff members did not book any of the seats at the stadium for the final once Ireland’s qualification campaign was emphatically ended by two defeats to Germany. Bushell said:

If Ireland had qualified, it would have been too good of a trip to miss. Ireland will hopefully be well represented at the Rio Olympics so some of us may travel over and cheer them on at the stadium.”

He added, “We had a barbeque at the start of the World Cup in recognition of all the work the gang did to get the seats ready for the event. Arnold Bose, who is our automotives manager, is from Germany and I was telling him before the [Brazil] semi-final they would win 3-1. I thought their goalkeeper, Julio Cesar was suspect from long-range. I never would have suspected Germany would win 7-1.”

The capacity of the Maracanã is 78,838 but, due to TV camera placements and extra space for advertisers, the highest attendance of the World Cup’s seven matches, to date, has been 74,738. The attendance is expected to tip 75,000 this evening. That is 75,000 reasons for a Westmeath company to be extremely proud.

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Patrick McCarry

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