Synthetic pitches simply are not the answer

Keith Kentin Industry News

Synthetic pitches simply are not the answer

KeithKent2.jpgBy Keith Kent

No one in football wants to play for points on a plastic pitch, ask any player or coach. We all know of training pitches that are only played on by the kids. We know of full size pitches that have been built inside the new training grounds - but how often do the professionals play on them - NEVER.

These pitches affect the body differently. Players who do train on them during inclement weather complain of their backs and joints aching. These pitches will lead to players being retired earlier due to body fatigue, in what is already a short career. If we change the pitches to be played on to artificial surfaces, we will end up with an artificial game. Coaches will very soon devise a way of playing negatively on such surfaces.

The underdogs exist and sometimes they do the unexpected - surely that is the appeal! They (these administrators) appear to be unaware of the fact that for a hundred years, hundreds of millions of spectators have watched football played in all weathers and in all sorts of conditions.

I lay the blame for soccer heading in the 'disastrous' direction of artificial surfaces, on the game's administrators, FIFA and UEFA. Why, are they hell bent on changing the face of sport forever? The game of football has lasted because it is a sport - a sport in which you never know what will happen next. I demand to know why, exactly, these administrators are so keen to drive the sport in the direction of artificial surfaces. Exactly what involvement do FIFA and UEFA have with these artificial companies? It surely isn't for the good of the game?

I would like to know why half a million dollars were used to build a football pitch in Mongolia? When that money could have bought 35,000 size five footballs and given them out to young kids who want to play football! What happened to the £10 million pounds we spent on our bid to host the 2006 world cup? Why is the next world cup going to be played in South Africa, a country currently beset with problems of crime and poverty? Is it so that the administrators can push the use of artificial pitches in a land in which grass pitches are more difficult to grow and maintain?

In this country, if all the clubs ended up playing on the same synthetic surfaces then say goodbye to the cup competitions, because we'll never see a Shrewsbury Town over turn an Everton again or a Wycombe Wanderers reaching the Semi-finals. The artificial game played on artificial surfaces will be boring. Who'll go and watch the game then?

There is almost a whiff of something not right about FIFA and UEFA, and I'm not alone in sharing that opinion. As an Industry we just don't have the money to lobby these organisations, but there are huge profits involved in artificial surfaces and these manufacturers can easily afford to make the prospect of synthetic surfaces tangible.

I argue that the overriding decisions about the grass pitches versus the artificial pitches dispute should be based on what is best for the sport - what is best for the players and what is best for the spectators….AND NOT WHAT IS BEST FOR THE ADMINISTRATORS!

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