800 million blades of grass for a soccer field

There are certain wisdoms in football. 1. A game lasts for around 90 minutes. 2. There are 22 players on the field. 3. The ball is round. 4. The turf has 800 million blades of grass. 5. In the end, Germany always wins. Just a moment? 800 million blades of grass? Actually, yes – if you look at the artificial pitch used for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

The notion of “artificial turf” is about as popular among footballers here as “goal-line technology” or “slow-motion replay”. In spite of the rational advantages, many clubs and players have an ambivalent attitude to the new technical possibilities. Recently, Dortmund player Marco Reus refused to play in the first leg of the European League qualifiers at Odds BK. His reason? – The Norwegians always play their home games on artificial turf. Reus, who, like his club, is said never to have played on an artificial turf before, justified his refusal in terms of the increased risk of injury. “It is not so good for my body to play on artificial turf, precisely because of the danger of injury,” he said before the match.

Reus certainly would have done better to get his feet onto the grass. In the end, BVB won by a narrow margin of 4:3. For the Norwegians, the advantages of artificial turf are clear: the material is not affected by extremes of cold or heat, it lasts up to 15 years, which is three times as long as natural turf and thus represents considerable cost savings. Not for nothing did Canada use artificial turf in all its stadiums for the Women’s World Cup this year. And it is also to be used as the substrate for the Men’s World Cup in Qatar, which is notorious for its high summer temperatures.

Artificial turf consists mostly of polypropylene, polyethylene or polyamide. The material used for the pitches in Canada was LLDPE – linear low density polyethylene, a form which is relatively porous. The individual blades of grass were produced in two large monofilament plants in the USA. They were then subjected, before delivery, to an extensive certification process, undertaken by FIFA.

Monofilaments in a Reimotec line for the production of artificial turf with the requested excellent properties. Copyright: Reimotec

Monofilaments in a Reimotec line for the production of artificial turf with the requested excellent properties. Copyright: Reimotec

The plant and machinery, moreover, comes from Germany. The machinery and production technology was developed by Reimotec Maschinenbau GmbH from Lampertheim and that is what has made it possible to count exactly how many blades of grass the women’s football teams played on in their battle for the title. According to Sales Manager Detlef Kolb, each pitch had almost exactly 800 million “blades of grass”. Although opinions on the artificial turf have remained divided, because of the granulate used, the LLDPE has, however, proved itself. Who knows, perhaps Marco Reus will grit his teeth in future, like his female colleagues did, and show us what he is capable of on artificial turf.

Picture above: Copyright: wikipedia.de

Peggy Behling

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