Before fans turn their gaze to Brazil for the biggest football event in the world, the U-17 girls will be in the spotlight with 16 teams going head-to-head for the world title in Costa Rica between 15 March and 4 April.
It is not just the talented youth players on the pitch who will be taking centre stage, but also the stadiums and pitches playing host to them. The 2014 edition of this competition will be the second FIFA women’s youth tournament to be played on FIFA-certified football turf, following on from the previous edition of this tournament in Azerbaijan in 2012.
This year, two of the four U-17 Women’s World Cup stadiums – the Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium in Alajuela province and the Ricardo Saprissa Aymá Stadium in Tibas – have FIFA-certified football turf pitches. Between them, Alajuela and Tibas will host 12 group-stage matches, including what promises to be a fascinating encounter between Korea DPR and Germany, a rematch of one of the U-17 semi-finals in 2012.
FIFA 2 Star RECOMMENDED
The two pitches have been installed by FIFA Preferred Producer FieldTurf Inc, who have been on the list of FIFA Preferred Producers since 2009 and have worked in close cooperation with FIFA in the build-up to the tournament to ensure that the players have the best pitches at their disposal and to guarantee the best possible playing conditions.
Both pitches were installed before the World Cup and then tested by a FIFA-accredited field test institute in accordance with the criteria laid down in the FIFA Quality Programme (http://quality.fifa.com/en/Football-Turf/Become-a-licensee/How-to-certify-a-field/). The Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium received the FIFA 2 Star RECOMMENDED quality mark in October 2013, followed by the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá in December 2013. Both installations therefore meet the requirements of professional football, which means that clubs and the Costa Rican FA will also be able to use them for international matches following the World Cup.
Mini-pitch for the fans
The U-17 players will not be the only ones putting their skills on display on football turf pitches, however, as FieldTurf Inc. has also installed a mini-pitch in the FIFA Fan Zone in San José’s Parque Central so that fans can indulge in their favourite pastime. The Fan Zone will be open between 15 and 30 March (Thursday to Sunday only) so that fans can make full use of the mini-pitch.
This is just the beginning for football turf pitches in women’s football too, with other major women’s tournaments due to take place either partially or fully on artificial turf in 2014 and 2015, namely the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™, both in Canada.