On 2 and 3 June 2003, the second roundtable meeting of the FIFA Quality Concept for Artificial Turf convened at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. All relevant stakeholders from the FIFA Quality Concept were in attendance, including 11 of 13 licensees, four test institutes and representatives from F-Marc (FIFA’s Medical Assessment and Research Centre). A UEFA delegation also took part in the proceedings to discuss the next steps in the development of universal standards for artificial turf.
The FIFA Quality Concept for Artificial Turf was born in 2001 and has already made giant strides. The first turf manufacturer signed on only a few months after the launch of the programme. And today, 55 fields around the world are equipped with an artificial playing surface bearing the “FIFA Recommended” label.
On 30 August 2003, Helsinki’s Töölö Stadium will become the first ground with an artificial pitch to host a FIFA competition final at the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Championship Finland 2003. The ground-breaking event is seen as a great step towards the implementation and worldwide acceptance of artificial surfaces for football.
Among the many topics discussed at the June meeting was the introduction of artificial turf into the official Laws of the Game, and the creation of a standard procedure, based on the IFAB mandate to FIFA for the use of artificial surfaces across the globe.
The development of higher and more uniform standards for artificial surfaces based on medical research and feedback from players was also put forward as a logical next step toward future improvements.
The meeting focused on the harmonisation of different standards in artificial turf with an eye to global uniformity.
Following the roundtable, FIFA announced the institution of a joint effort with UEFA in the two crucial areas of player feedback data and medical research (together with F-Marc) which will be carried out in future competitive matches under the auspices of both bodies.
Based on the spirit of friendship and cooperation, further projects were discussed and agreed upon, all with the same objective: the improvement of artificial turf in order to raise the standard and accessibility of the world’s game.