Guest Blog from: – Artificial grass in Football – In World Football, it is yet to be seen whether or not artificial will have an impact and will be widely used as a playing surface for major competitions. The FIFA secretary general, Jerome Valcke has previously said that he believes that the men’s world cup could be played on artificial grass “sooner rather than later.” With that being said, this would be a massive step forward for football and the direction that it is heading in relation to top quality playing surfaces. Despite pressure from fans and football professionals to use natural grass for the game, influential people on the FIFA board are highlighting the positives for many clubs and countries to change playing surface. Women’s football might be the first to use artificial grass in a major tournament, much to the dismay of a certain group of players – FIFA have announced that the Women’s World Cup played in Canada will be played on an artificial surface. In Canada due to poor conditions for natural grass this is what the board have agreed on, as it is the first time artificial grass has been in a high profile tournament it is sure to be a spectacle and likely to dictate how much we begin to see artificial grass appearing in world football. Looking very alike natural grass, artificial grass in made up from a combination of synthetic fibres that are made to simulate real grass. Often used for residential areas such as gardens, artificial grasses apparel is often like very well kept natural grass – which means an appealing looking lawn with low levels of maintenance. Companies like Forever Green Lawns supply artificial grass for residential areas, however now we are seeing artificial grass becoming useful for much more than just residential areas. Sports arenas are now looking to use artificial grass as it offers a far more sustainable solution to their high maintenance fees. In Canada’s case, FIFA have ruled that natural grass will be hard to maintain in a good condition for the duration of the world cup in with Canada’s climate – this means that artificial grass will be used to avoid patchy areas on pitches. Obviously, when using artificial grass there will be positive and negative facts and opinions. Some of the positives that come when using this surface are the fact that you can use it in most conditions, more so than natural grass. On top of this, the pitch won’t suffer from becoming patchy like natural grass would do, countries without the most suitable climate to maintain top quality natural grass can now use artificial grass as an alternative. This in turn will benefit teams in lower leagues with lower budgets, offering them the opportunity to switch to a surface that plays and feels like natural grass however doesn’t require the same amount of attention. This means that they will save money on maintenance and play on a good surface. On the other hand, some people will argue the negatives and no matter how significant of insignificant they are, you are likely to hear some of them. Purist supporters will offer the argument that artificial grass is new to football, and that the tradition of playing football on natural grass should be kept. Artificial is sure to change the game in one way or another, however it may not be a bad thing – despite this you will inevitably hear people feeling that the ‘beautiful game’ shouldn’t be going in the direction that it is. Players, most likely will be concerned with how the ball reacts to the pitch. We can see this in other sports such as tennis – clay vs grass courts – and how the ball reacts differently on each one. Also, in golf – where the length of the grass effects the running speed of the ball on putting greens etc. This will prompt questions on the differences in behaviour of the ball on an artificial surface. Despite seeming like an odd thing to question, that is an important factor to players at the top of their game as the smallest tweaks to playing environments are likely to have bigger effects. With all these questions surrounding playing surfaces, it is important to remember how it is sometimes more viable to suffer the negatives so that countries with climates unsuitable for natural grass can hold major competitions in world football. The woman’s world cup is likely to show up any faults that might have been overlooked.

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