A well-manicured field makes soccer more enjoyable to watch on the field or television. Apart from the viewers, it also makes the experience enjoyable for the soccer players too.
Some soccer pitches around the world don’t have even surfaces. They usually form puddles after a heavy downpour if they don’t have a good drainage system.
However, when such soccer fields are covered with grass, the grass evens out the surfaces and makes it easier for the ball to roll. With all the stripes on the soccer field, some fans have been left wondering if the grass used on the field is real or fake.
Those that say the grasses used on soccer fields are fake use the stripes to justify their point. On the other hand, those that support the opinion that soccer fields are covered with real grass say that is why they keep soccer fields wet.
Which of the arguments sounds like the truth to you? Today, we are going to tell you whether soccer fields use real grass or synthetic grass and which is preferred.
Do soccer fields use real grass?
The simple answer to this question is yes. Soccer fields use real grass. However, some soccer fields also make use of synthetic grass also called turf.
Before the creation of artificial turf in 1966, virtually all soccer fields made use of natural grass. To date, natural grass still provides the standard for the creation of artificial turf.
The use of artificial grass is considered an exception rather than the rule. In other words, artificial turf is supposed to be used only when it is impossible to get natural grass. However, most stadiums are choosing artificial turf over natural grass for other reasons including cost and maintenance.
Some stadiums are also using a hybrid grass system that combines natural grass and synthetic turf. In the hybrid system, the artificial turf is first injected into the ground. The field is then seeded with natural grass.
As the natural grass grows, its roots are intertwined with the artificial grass to create stability. This technology was used in the 2010 World Cup stadium. It was also used in Arena de Sao Paulo which was the venue of the 2014 World Cup opening game.
So, why do some soccer stadiums use natural grass and others use synthetic grass? Which one of the two types of grass is more appealing to soccer players? Keep reading to find out.
Producing natural grass is time-consuming and expensive
The process of creating natural turf from start to finish can last from 6 months to several years depending on several factors. Firstly, the grasses are not grown in the stadium or the stadium will have to be closed.
They are grown on special farms where they are cared for and closely monitored. The harvesting and packaging are also done using specialized machines. All this adds to the production cost.
Since most stadiums are built in countries where funds are usually not readily available, using artificial turf serves as a means of cutting down costs.
Artificial turfs are cheaper to maintain
The issue of maintenance is another reason why most stadiums prefer artificial turf to natural turf. Artificial turf can withstand the long playing hours without looking battered like natural turfs.
After natural turfs are transported from the farms and laid on the stadium, they have to be properly cared for or they will wither.
This includes frequent manuring, watering, and weeding. Stadiums that use natural grass will have to employ groundskeepers to keep it in a playable state or the grasses will become overgrown.
On the other hand, once artificial turfs are installed, the only maintenance that is often required is keeping them clean and covering them up when the sun is too hot.
Don’t let the watering of the stadium confuse you. Regardless of the type of grass that is used in the stadium, it may still be watered before the start of the game and during halftime.
This watering is not to make the artificial grass grow. It is watered to increase friction so that the ball can roll with ease. However, it has to be done with the consent of the coaches of both teams.
Soccer players usually prefer natural grass
Who is in the best position to tell you which type of grass is better if not the soccer players that use the pitch all the time? The majority of soccer players prefer natural grass to synthetic grass for several reasons.
One of the reasons is that it causes turf burn. Soccer is a contact sport and players often clash with each other and fall to the ground, execute sliding tackles, or slide to celebrate goals. All these actions may cause their exposed bodies to make contact with the soil leading to turf burns.
Some soccer players say artificial turf often makes the soccer ball bounce in an unnatural way which makes it harder to control the ball.
In a 2013 Cop del Rey game between Real Madrid and Xativa, Real Madrid’s coach and players rebuffed the pitch condition. Real Madrid players eventually decided to change their soccer cleats but still ended the game in a goalless draw against a team they ordinarily should have defeated.
Ideally, every soccer field should be covered by natural grass. However, exceptions had to be made for certain regions where natural grass is not easily available to make it possible for them to participate in the game.
Players have emphasized that the feel of playing on natural grass is different from that of playing on artificial turf. They also argue that artificial turf increases their injury risk.
There seems to be some credibility in their argument since synthetic soccer cleats can easily heat up resulting in turf burn.
However, as a soccer player, we would advise that you find a way to train on both natural grass and artificial turf because you will most likely come across a pitch that has either of the two during your career.
Getting familiar with either surface can make all the difference to your performance and will prevent you from being taken by surprise.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!