FIFA will fund the construction and maintenance of indoor testing facilities at Michigan State University to support the MSU Turf-grass research team developing natural grass playing surfaces for the 2026 North American World Cup.
Most venues currently being shortlisted for hosting the 2026 football tournament are indoor facilities that have synthetic turf as a surface to host NFL games.
For the football world cup, FIFA is demanding a natural grass playing surface. To meet FIFA’s mandate of natural grass playing surfaces, the researchers will have to design turf-grass systems which can be temporarily placed inside the stadiums and remain playable for up to 60 days.
According to Professor John Trey Rogers, who will lead the MSU Turf-grass research team, “Having these indoor facilities will allow us to test various lighting and chemical treatments year-round.”
One of their major challenges will be thwarting potential disease, which Rogers says thrives in low-light conditions.
“I would liken this to a dark shower,” Rogers said. “If you don’t keep it clean, think about all the mould and fungi that comes in because there’s no light there, a dark wet place. That’s what happens in any kind of indoor situation,” he was quoted saying to The State newspaper.
“What we’re doing is basically testing in an absolute zero light environment, worst case scenario, and building it from there, so that at no point when we get into a stadium, they’ll have anything we haven’t researched for.”
Rogers will be assisted by four MSU students: Ph.D. candidates Ryan Bearss and Jackie Guevara, M.S. student Jake Kilby, and research assistant Evan Rogers.