Is Synthetic Turf the Future of Football?
Synthetic turf has hit the headlines in recent months as top names in football have debated the importance of artificial grass to the future of the sport.
Alex Horne, Football Association (FA) general secretary, confirmed that fake turf will be permitted in every round of next season’s FA cup. While the FA chairman Greg Dyke hopes for hundreds more artificial pitches at grass roots level.
England captain and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has also thrown his weight behind the FA’s plan to double the number of full-size fake pitches by 2020.
“It can only benefit our country, benefit the kids and benefit each city that get these new pitches,” said Rooney. “It is really great news.”
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It comes after leading women players filed a legal challenge against the use of artificial surfaces for the 2015 World Cup in Canada, arguing that men wouldn’t expect to play a World Cup on a fake turf surface.
However, Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general (the international governing body of association football) said a men’s world cup on artificial pitches is likely to happen in the future.
He told the FIFA website that the decision in Canada was made because of “the natural conditions in Canada”.
“This has been the sole reason behind the decision to play on artificial turf since day one,” he said, adding that the issue of ‘extreme climate’ may also arise for the men’s 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“It could well be sooner rather than later that the men’s world cup will also be played on artificial pitches.”
Meanwhile, the FA claim wider use of artificial pitches will extend playing time tenfold and help promote the game at local level.
They plan to increase the number of fake grass pitches in 30 cities, so that football grounds can be used throughout the year.
Mr Dyke told Sky News: “We have a big problem in grass roots football because of the facilities. I wouldn’t say it’s at crisis point, but we have to do something about it.”
It is hoped that improving football at local level will improve the quality of the game at national level.
Benefits of Artificial Pitches at a Glance:
- Artificial pitches save money in the long run as they don’t need to be regularly maintained like grass pitches.
- Fake pitches increase playing times as games aren’t halted due to boggy or waterlogged pitches.
- High quality synthetic pitches promote football at local level encouraging more youngsters to take up the sport.
- Fake grass pitches have a tough and durable surface so they can withstand high traffic levels.
- By encouraging more youngsters to take up football it promotes a healthier younger population.
- It may also encourage more youngsters to take up the sport professionally, increasing the quality of players at the highest sporting level.
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