We have started a series of posts that covers synthetic turf in the proffesional sports industry. To start we have choosen to focus on FIFA World Cup Soccer. The 2014 FIFA World Cup was the 20th FIFA World Cup, the tournament for the association football world championship, which took place at several venues across Brazil. Germany won the tournament, the country’s fourth title, and first since the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990, by defeating Argentina 1–0 in the final – the same result as the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final.
The tournament began on 12 June 2014 with a group stage and concluded on 13 July 2014 with the championship match. It was the second time that Brazil hosted the competition, the first being in 1950. The national teams of 31 countries advanced through qualification competitions to participate with the host nation Brazil in the final tournament. A total of 64 matches were played in 12 cities across Brazil in either new or redeveloped stadiums. For the first time at a World Cup finals, match officials used goal-line technology, as well as vanishing foam for free kicks. Synthetic turf fields were also utilized in this world cup and although it was not the first time it was an important piece of the world cup.
Specifically looking at synthetic turf applications we are happy to report that the use of synthetic surf provided the following benefits for Brazil and FIFA.
Better Longevity, Less Maintenance
Economics cannot be taken out of anything. Futbol is a costly affair; when unpredictable climatic conditions or the nature of the soil prevent scheduled matches and practices form happening or cut them short, the clubs experience losses. The players lack training and practice. This is not a scenario that the governing organization of any sport will prefer.
Synthetic turf does not pose any such problems. The grass is always going to be just right, the surface flat and smooth. Play life is going to be much longer. The durability and climatic resistance of football turf is extensively tested in the laboratory. Only when FIFA is satisfied, does it give a pitch its certification.
A FIFA certified pitch automatically guarantees longevity. You can use it all the time with very little maintenance. No mowing, cutting, edging and all of that. Besides, natural grass pitches are bound to wear and tear.
The restoring of a pitch takes a lot of time, effort and money. It works out as a costly affair. Synthetic pitches on the other hand, especially those that are FIFA-certified, have undergone rigorous laboratory and field testing for features like ball roll and rebound, abrasion and traction rate at ball-surface interaction and player-surface interaction, deformation, energy restitution, and shock absorption. So despite long and excessive use they become resistant to wear and tear. Therefore, they give a good return on investment and prove profitable.
Higher Levels of Safety
Artificial turf was used in professional football for the first time in the 1980s in a few England clubs but soon found itself out of favor because of the injuries it was believed to have caused the players. The hardness of the artificial turf was blamed for the higher number of increasingly severe injuries sustained by the players.
It took a lot of technological improvement and development to finally design an artificial football turf that was as safe for players as natural grass. Finally, FIFA’s study and analysis of the U-17 championship in Peru in 2005 concluded that both natural and artificial grass cause the same number and extent of injuries to the players.
Today FIFA and the IATS (International Artificial Turf Standards) have stringent safety criteria in place for artificial football turfs to be considered world class. Football grounds made of synthetic grass are now designed keeping the players’ safety in mind. This step by football turf manufactures has increased its popularity immensely. Indoor sports centers and international stadiums are looking at artificial football turf as a viable alternative to natural grass grounds.