Women’s World Cup 2015: Benefits of Synthetic Turf

July 1, 2015

Synthetic turf’s place within elite sport is taking a major step forward over the next month as the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup continues in Canada.

This is the first time artificial grass has been established as the sole surface for an international tournament; every game, erectile across the six host cities, order marking a momentous moment in the playing surface’s long history.

The decision by FIFA to include the turf in Canada is yet another sign that sport, seek in particular football, is increasingly recognizing the merits and the benefits to elite athletes.

This is in spite of opposition amongst women players to 3G’s use at the 2015 tournament. Concerns over ball control, injury risk and suitability for elite sport have formed the backbone of their argument, however, all have been disproven by years of independent research and hundreds of academic studies.

Thus, synthetic turf has been accepted by governing bodies of sport worldwide as a safe, durable and high-performing surface suitable for both men’s and women’s elite sports.

A sample of independent research has found:

– No difference in the physiological response of players to natural and synthetic turf, in a study conducted by Cardiff University.

– No difference in the match statistics of synthetic and natural games in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, in a study conducted by sports analytics organization, Prozone, refuting America captain, Abby Wambach’s claims that more goals are scored on natural grass.

– The risk of injury was the same on natural and 3G across elite, amateur and youth football, a fact concluded by multiple studies.

Whilst previous generations of artificial turf felt abrasive and hard, resulting in the 1980s pitches that still heavily influence opinion today, the synthetic turf industry has heavily invested in research and technology. Checks and tests are extensive, always looking to surpass the benchmarks expected of natural pitches.

“Through fine-tuned lab processes and rigorous testing protocols, synthetic turf can now offer players a unique balance of durability, resilience and skin friendliness,” said Bryn Lee, Global Business Director of Bonar Yarns. “Some of the best surfaces in the world are now synthetic.”

For the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup an independent consultant has tested all six host stadiums to ensure the playing surfaces meet stringent performance criteria. Each pitch is FIFA Certified, meaning it is benchmarked against natural grass characteristics in terms of ball bounce, ball roll, skin abrasion and shock absorption.

“We believe that the top talent in football deserves a world-class playing surface,” said John Baize, director of Act Global, pitch manufacturer to Montreal Olympic Stadium.

“Our first priority is player safety. By identifying the needs of the player and how natural grass performs, combined with best in class resources and testing, we have developed top quality synthetic turf systems benchmarked to the performance and safety of top natural grass pitches.”

Ultimately, synthetic pitches deliver on all fronts, providing a consistent and equal playing surface, elite-level performance and a safety record supported by detailed reports. Combining the look and feel of natural grass pitches with the benefits of increased playing hours, extra revenue generation, weather resistance and reduced maintenance, makes it a worthy alternative to the traditional grass surfaces.

“The use of synthetic pitches at this World Cup is not a trial,” said Lee, “They have been chosen because they go far beyond the standards required by FIFA. Synthetic pitches are already used by some of the world’s top clubs and they regularly surpass the quality of some of the natural pitches in use across Europe’s top leagues.”  

In fact, for years synthetic turf has had a place in both male and female elite football. Its use in last year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup, 2007’s U-20 Men’s World Cup, FA Cup, Champions League and other top clubs across Europe, all show how 3G’s popularity continues to grow.

“We expect continued growth in both men’s and women’s elite sporting events throughout the world, and we will continue to advance our technology and systems to stay ahead of the demand,” said John Baize, Director of Act Global.

“With the spotlight on the Women’s World Cup, we look forward to watching the tournament progress over the coming weeks and sharing in the excitement of the games.”