One of the longest running debates in soccer has been turf versus grass playing pitches. QueensCast, the Orlando Pride experts, are here to share information and history about the turf/grass debate. In 2014, the turf soccer pitch controversy really took center stage. It was announced that the 2015 Women’s World Cup would be played on a turf pitch. Usually, in most FIFA international matches, grass pitches are standard. A debate was sparked not only about the advantages and disadvantages of turf pitches, but also about possible sexism within FIFA. Various players, including Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan, filed lawsuits against FIFA and the CSA. This raises the question: what really are the advantages and disadvantages of playing on turf?
- Synthetic turf pitches ultimately lead to more playing time. As opposed to natural grass, turf allows for playing in all kinds of weather except thunder and lightning. On natural grass, rainfall can cause poor conditions and damage.
- Turf pitches allow more footwear flexibility. Athletes can wear hybrid shoes or traditional indoor or turf soccer shoes.
- Turf actually increases the game pace. The conditions of the field are consistent and the grass is short. This helps the ball move faster.
- While a study done by FIFA in 2005 concluded that turf causes minimal differences in injuries, many players claim that turf leads to increased injuries and turf also takes more time to recover from playing on. Professional soccer players, including Sydney Leroux, have shared photos that demonstrate the burns, lodged pellets, and abrasions that are caused by playing on turf.
- Artificial turf tends to be a different surface than most players are used to. The hardness results in different ball behavior including higher ball bounces.
- Artificial turf is significantly hotter to play on. All the small, black beads of rubber heat up during hot days. The temperature of an artificial turf field reaches 117 degrees, whereas the soil of a traditional grass field only reaches 98 degrees.
- The cost of a grass or turf playing surface can vary. There are different kinds of grass pitches, but implementation can reach up to $600,000. Artificial turf, on the other hand, ranges between $850,000 to $1,000,000 for implementation. Typically, grass playing surfaces are slightly more expensive to maintain.
There are many pros and cons of playing on artificial turf. Overall, professional soccer players seem to agree that natural grass pitches are their preference due to safety. The new Orlando Pride stadium even features an all-natural, grass playing surface. What’s your playing preference?