A product by Chinese synthetic turf manufacturer Vivaturf will be used in a FIFA project that aims at gathering sufficient evidence to justify the inclusion of the non-filled system as a sub-type within the FIFA Football Turf Quality Programme.
The study aims at establishing a dedicated and slightly adjusted test protocol to reflect the specific nature of the product. It has been established that non-filled synthetic turf systems currently do not meet all the quality requirements set out in the FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf, such as the requirements for rotational resistance and surface friction and abrasion.
In part triggered by legislative initiatives but mostly based on the belief that technology is available, FIFA called on the industry earlier this year as it was looking for producers of systems designed without (non-biodegradable) polymeric infills that will nevertheless allow football to be played with the same performance levels as the systems and pitches currently certified under the FIFA Quality Programme.
The appointment of Vivaturf is remarkable, to say the least. The company from China is a FIFA Licensee and, as such, viewed as ‘equal’ by FIFA. However, organisations like ESTC, the lobby group for the synthetic turf industry in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, together with the STC in North-America believe synthetic turf producers from China have an unfair advantage as they supposedly, receive government incentives that allow them producing their products very cheap. With the debate about microplastic pollution from third-generation synthetic turf particularly affecting football turf and the synthetic turf market in Europe, one would have expected a European synthetic turf manufacturer being eager to take the lead.
The Vivaturf product used is a non-filled artificial turf system composed of curly tufted yarn and a high elastic shockpad.
Studied by many
Non-filled synthetic turf is viewed by many as a solution to the microplastic pollution from polymeric infill used on third-generation synthetic turf fields. Non-filled systems gained momentum in 2016 until it was ruled that the systems do not meet FIFA requirements.
Non-filled synthetic turf is currently studied heavily. In this article, the head of the FIFA non-filled working group, Colin Young of TenCate Grass, explains research that is conducted already.