Understanding hybrid & reinforced surfaces in football

Modern football stadiums are becoming more technically equipped.

Often underestimated, innovations are increasingly also found in the design of the playing surface itself where hybrid, reinforced, synthetic and mixed systems are becoming more widespread. This short guide gives an overview of how to classify these new types.

Most major league stadiums and some of the FIFA World Cup™ stadiums are nowadays equipped with playing surfaces that are specifically engineered to meet the requirements of modern-day football realities. Often simply referred to as “hybrid” or “reinforced”, there is quite a bit of confusion about the exact nature of these fields that may include visible or invisible synthetic fibres to improve the performance.

The development of these new types of surfaces started several years ago as a means to find solutions to the ever-growing demands of (natural turf) stadiums fields with limited natural light and increasing usage requirements. Having proven their worth over numerous seasons at the elite level, these surfaces are now becoming more and more popular for communities and training sites looking for surfaces that are more resilient. Due to the integration of synthetic fibres, many questions have arisen seeking clarification on when a field is to be considered “natural turf” and when it becomes “synthetic turf”. FIFA requested a study on the status quo of the playing surfaces market in 2017 and drafted a short document outlining the different surface types using a scale ranging from “fully natural” to “fully synthetic”. This distinction is important for understanding the costs and operational requirements of the given surface:

Artificial turf, for example, needs to meet the requirements of the FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf whereas predominantly natural turf surfaces will typically require more maintenance and therefore additional resources.

This Introduction to Hybrid Sufaces document provides an overview of the different surface types and allows users to understand what “technology” is in the field of play.