FIFA Quality Programme for Natural Playing Surfaces

The FIFA Quality Programme for Natural Playing Surfaces, launched in October 2021, aims to harmonise the testing procedure and enable clubs and competition organisers to use the same criteria to compare the quality of natural playing surfaces.

As there are many different types of natural playing surfaces, Table 1 provides an overview of the surfaces that can be tested to the standard. Given the rapid development and increasing levels of innovation in this area, however, this table may be updated from time to time and new types of surfaces tested to this standard.

Natural Playing Surfaces
Fully natural Natural reinforced root zone Natural in-situ stitched fibres Natural synthetic carpet based
Traditional construction for natural turf using only natural materials, including sand Synthetic elements added to the root zone profile of the natural turf to provide reinforcement Synthetic fibres stitched into the natural surface with natural turf growing within the fibres Synthetic carpet laid in the surface with natural turf growing within the carpet

Test criteria

The test criteria have been developed while accounting for the symbiosis of the agronomy and technical requirements to provide a safe, high-performance surface. The test protocol reflects this by requiring test institutes to perform a technical assessment to measure the hardness, stability and evenness of the surface, as well as to carry out additional ball-surface interaction tests to validate the overall performance of the pitch. In addition, a set of agronomy tests will be conducted. These tests are especially important for natural playing surfaces as only in their entire combination will they provide a full insight into the health of the surface and the performance that can be expected.

As all clubs employ highly qualified greenkeepers who know their surfaces better than anyone else, the uniform testing procedure removes subjectivity from the pitch evaluation process. This will allow clubs and competition organisers to take more targeted action to improve pitches where necessary. 

For this purpose, and to provide groundkeepers with guidelines for their day-to-day work, in addition to the full protocol performed by specialist FIFA-accredited test institutes, the FIFA Quality Programme offers a reduced test protocol that is specifically designed for groundkeepers. These tests, which focus more on agronomy, can be carried out on a regular basis and provide guidelines for daily maintenance work, whereas the full testing protocol must be carried out by FIFA-accredited test institutes and is likely to be carried out only a few times a year. 

Certification of playing surfaces

Due to the heavy dependency on weather conditions, the FIFA Quality Programme does not offer certification for natural playing surfaces but rather recommends that playing surfaces be continuously validated following the test protocol, working towards a high-quality pitch well in advance of a competition.

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FIFA Quality Programme for Natural Playing Surfaces

The FIFA Quality Programme for Natural Playing Surfaces, launched in October 2021, aims to harmonise the testing procedure and enable clubs and competition organisers to use the same criteria to compare the quality of natural playing surfaces...

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