A FIFA Basic standard for synthetic turf is still work in progress if a recent update by FIFA is anything to go by. Earlier this year, FIFA hinted that it aimed for having this new quality standard for synthetic turf surfaces ready by summer this year.
FIFA Basic is supposed to become a standard for which the quality criteria should be easier to meet than the FIFA Quality for community football fields and certainly be easier to meet than the FIFA Quality Pro, the standard that is compulsory for synthetic turf fields used at the highest levels of football.
In a recent briefing to stakeholders, FIFA explained that FIFA Basic will be used in three applications:
1. Temporary field certification (for three months) of fields requiring certification for specific tournaments. This will allow temporary fields laid in convention centres, etc to be certified without having to satisfy all of the normal criteria.
2. Extension of previously certified FIFA Quality fields to allow national associations to continue to allow the use of older fields in lower level (e.g. community) competitions.
3. New category for lower cost new fields, intended to help those that cannot currently afford synthetic turf fields.
FIFA states that the FIFA Basic mark will merely replace the International Match Standards (IMS) that is in use already but that is not really recognised as such. According to industry insiders, FIFA intends to use the FIFA Basic standard to validate synthetic turf fields that have been installed in emerging football nations, including fields that have been installed by local contractors and with synthetic turf that is not necessarily been supplied by a tufting company that is a FIFA Preferred Provider or FIFA Licensee.
Its an idea that doesn’t sit well with companies in the latter two categories as all FIFA Preferred Providers and FIFA Licensees pay FIFA an hefty fee annually, partly for being allowed to associate their company and brand with FIFA exclusively.
Discussions about the best way forward are still ongoing. As FIFA aims for including the quality criteria into an updated version of the FIFA Handbooks for synthetic turf, it is highly unlikely that the FIFA Basic standard will come into effect before the end of 2022. At present updates on the FIFA Handbook of requirements and the FIFA Handbook of test methods are scheduled for release early 2023.