The quality of the pitch is key to the quality of play and the enjoyment of the game. That goes for both natural grass and artificial turf.
The main advantages of artificial pitches are lower maintenance costs and increased playability. Unlike natural grass, artificial pitches don’t get torn up by rough play and don’t need any fertilizers or thousands of litres of water a week to keep them in good condition.
But artificial turf needs to meet certain quality criteria to guarantee safety (few injuries) and a high level of enjoyment. For this reason, the KNVB has set basic minimum standards for artificial pitches, covering ‘technical’ requirements such as stability, shock absorption and the degree of friction. In addition, the KNVB has published a list of tips on how to maintain, inspect and improve artificial turf.
Artificial pitches certified after 1 July 2010 must undergo mandatory inspection eight years after construction, i.e. from 2018. A positive test report means the field meets minimum standards and is therefore safe to play.
In December 2016, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment published a report on potential health risks from playing on artificial turf. The investigation was triggered by fears over dangerous chemicals in the granules in the artificial grass. It concluded that these risks are ‘virtually negligible’ and that it is therefore safe to play soccer and other sports on artificial turf fields covered in rubber crumbs. The KNVB welcomes these findings because they give clarity to sports clubs and players.