About football turf
Artificial turf has been around for decades and has been used in different sports – with varying degrees of success and intensity – since the first-generation turf of the 1960s.
The suitability of unfilled or sand-filled artificial turf systems for football has always been a matter of much debate and it was therefore only with the introduction of third-generation systems (3G), which include both sand and rubber infill, that the surfaces became a true alternative.
Football turf = artificial turf?
It was in this context that FIFA recognised the potential of artificial turf for the further development of football. Due to its resistance to weather and more intense use, it is the best alternative to natural grass. However, there are huge differences in terms of quality between the various systems of third-generation surfaces that are available on the market.
The development of the standard
The benchmark for testing from the start is a natural grass pitch in good condition. The artificial surface is only awarded one of the FIFA quality marks and called football turf if it meets the requirements set out in the Handbook of Requirements.
A stringent two-phase testing procedure, which includes testing the product in the laboratory and testing the final installation, ensures that the football turf meets the requirements for playing performance, safety, durability and quality assurance. Both testing phases focus on:
- Interaction between the player and the surface
- Interaction between the ball and the surface
- Product composition
- Weather resistance
- Seam strength
- Service life
By comparing the results of both tests, you can be sure that the field of play fulfils exactly the same requirements as set out by the FIFA Quality Programme. If both tests are passed, FIFA awards the final installation either the FIFA QUALITY or the FIFA QUALITY PRO mark.
Additional quality assurance by FIFA
As well as the mandatory testing procedures, FIFA carries out additional quality assurance checks on randomly selected pitches. The aim of these assessments is to support the end consumer by providing guidance on how to use and maintain the field correctly. Furthermore, the manufacturer will be informed if repair work is needed.
One of the benefits of football turf is the fact that the field can be used for all kinds of events without damaging the quality of the football pitch, provided that correct maintenance is available.
No sunlight required
Football turf is the perfect solution for indoor facilities or stadiums with large areas of shade on the field. Artificial pitches do not require any sunlight and are therefore more cost-efficient in terms of running costs than natural grass.
Grass often does not get all of the sunlight it needs, particularly in large football stadiums with steep and fully covered stands. To ensure that grass can grow towards the sunlight, time-intensive and costly maintenance methods, including infrared lighting, need to be used.
Communities as well as amateur and professional clubs often face the problem of natural grass pitches getting worn out due to intense use. A lack of space and high investment and maintenance costs mean that they are unable to install additional natural grass pitches.
A high-quality third-generation (3G) artificial turf surface is more resistant and durable, provided it is correctly maintained and used, and the club is then able to provide its teams with a good-quality football pitch at all times.
League matches and training sessions can take place on football turf pitches throughout the year, even in poor weather conditions,. A higher percentage of league matches, especially at amateur level, can be played – not only in places with extreme weather conditions, but also in regions with a temperate climate.
Research and development
Research and development is a crucial part of the FIFA Quality Programme with the aim of continuously improving the quality of football turf, which is why FIFA conducts player surveys, perception studies and case studies in order to identify the players’ needs, to obtain scientific findings on the existing problems, and to improve and develop testing requirements for the standard.
Example of the playing hours of a typical amateur club
|Team||No. of training days||No. of total training hours||No. of hours for matches on one weekend*||Total training/match hours per week|
|1st men’s team||3||6||1.5||7.5|
|2nd men’s team||3||5.5||0||5.5|
|1st women’s team||2||3||1.5||4.5|
|U-19 youth team||3||5.5||1.5||7|
|U-17 youth team||3||5.5||0||5.5|
|U-17 women’s youth team||2||3||0||3|
|U-15 youth team||3||5.5||1.5||7|
|U-15 women’s youth team||2||3||1.5||4.5|
|U-13 youth team||2||3||0||3|
|U-13 women’s youth team||2||3||0||3|
|U-11 youth team||1||3||1.5||4.5|
|U-9 youth team||1||3||0||3|
|Total no. of usage hours of the pitch||58|