For several years now, it seems nearly impossible to get the advocates and opponents of artificial pitches on the same page. New debates are lighting up every so often about a wide range of subjects, especially in The Netherlands where twelve out of the eighteen Eredivisie-competitors are playing their games on artificial turf. Whether it’s the rubber grains used on the turf, the element of competition distortion or sensitivity to injuries when playing on artificial grass. But are they correct?
A new Italian study followed and analysed all matches from the 2016/2017 season in the Italian Serie A, to answer the question whether playing on synthetic turf is risking an injury to footballers. The study shows that professional footballers will not have to worry, as researchers could not find any correlations between injuries and playing football on artificial grass. Researchers took the time to compare 36 matches playing on artificial grass against 36 games played on natural grass and considered a player injured it caused him to miss at least a training/match.
The study shows that football players are risking an injury when playing on synthetic turf, as much as playing on natural grass. In total, there were fifteen to eighteen injuries recorded per one thousand playing hours, for both artificial and natural turfs, from which ten injuries per one thousand playing hours were considered ‘non-contact injuries’. The biggest fear of all footballers playing on artificial turf is an ACL-injury/-rupture, this occurred once during the study, whilst the player was playing on natural turf. Once again, a study could not find an increase in injuries due to artificial pitches.
The results of this study are in line with previous studies where no direct link between the artificial pitches and injuries were found, although it will not take away the fears amongst players and coaches that have to play their games on artificial turfs. Therefore, the discussions will continue…