New edition of FIFA Test Manual for Football Turf released

Almost a decade has passed since the FIFA Test Manual for Football Turf was last updated in 2015. During the intervening period, the market has witnessed the introduction of entirely new football turf systems, incorporating innovative materials, performance infills, shockpads and fibres. While the FIFA-approved systems have been enhanced with regard to their durability and reliability in response to the increased demand in terms of the volume of hours of football practice, the evaluation methodologies have not progressed at the same rate and have therefore fallen behind industry developments.

As a result, FIFA, in close collaboration with the FIFA Football Turf Technical Advisory Group, has formulated new testing methods and introduced new testing devices to assess artificial playing surfaces in line with the highest industry standards. All recommendations and decisions contained in the Test Manual are based firmly on empirical evidence and comprehensive research.

1. Ensuring quality: the FIFA Quality and FIFA Quality Pro marks

FIFA Quality certification, which is designed for pitches that undergo a rigorous array of tests evaluating durability, safety and performance, caters to recreational, training and grassroots football applications. The tests, performed both in laboratory and on-site, assess the football turf’s capability to handle 40-60 hours of play per week. FIFA Quality-certified pitches provide a softer surface compared to their FIFA Quality Pro counterparts.

FIFA Quality Pro certification is designed for pitches that meet the high performance and safety standards required for professional football. Such surfaces undergo more stringent tests than FIFA Quality pitches to ensure that they meet the exacting demands to host international matches. Maintaining a FIFA Quality Pro pitch requires advanced practices to ensure its performance quality, especially with regard to ball roll metrics.

2. Test procedure innovations: the new advanced artificial athlete and rotational traction athlete apparatuses

The partnership between FIFA, Loughborough University and Labosport sees the manual introduce cutting-edge testing methodologies for assessing player-to-surface interactions that are better aligned with players’ perception of the playing surface. The test procedure innovations include the following:

A new advanced artificial athlete (AAA) algorithm: The updated AAA device is now able to measure peak shock absorption, peak deformation and energy return, providing a comprehensive insight into the surface’s performance. The revised testing process includes a single-drop method and a new contact pressure threshold.

A new rotational traction athlete (RTA) device: The lighter and more sophisticated RTA apparatus enables the determination of rotational shear stiffness, torque at 10° and the existing peak torque measurement, thereby providing a deeper understanding of surface rotational traction.

Related research published in scientific journal:

3. Enhancing safety standards

The inclusion of the Head Injury Criterion 1000 test in the manual underscores FIFA’s commitment to player safety. The test assesses the surface’s ability to mitigate high-energy impacts, establishing a minimum critical fall height requirement of 0.60 metres. Although it does not provide a direct assessment of head injuries, the test aims to prevent injuries by avoiding excessively hard surfaces.

4. Raising the bar on quality

As part of the drive to achieve greater durability and quality in top-level football turf systems, the April 2024 edition of the manual doubles the number of mechanical abrasion Lisport XL cycles to 6,000 for FIFA Quality Pro products. In addition, the manual introduces the determination of yarn brittleness and the specific requirements for shockpadsspecified under the EN 15330-4 standard. These innovations are expected to create a clearer distinction between the quality of products.

5. Flexibility and sustainability

With an eye on the future and reflecting its more diverse application in geographical terms, the manual makes it optional for the playing surface to be tested in frozen conditions, providing greater scope for alternative infill development. It also establishes requirements for the use of recycled content in yarn, which signals a shift towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly football turf systems. This approach not only reflects FIFA’s commitment to innovation but also its responsibility towards ecological sustainability.

6. Looking ahead

The manual also outlines the ongoing development of mineral-infill stabilised, mineral-infill filled and non-filled systems, indicating a cautious but open approach to embracing new technologies in football turf systems. Pitches featuring such systems require further testing and approval before they can be certified under the FIFA Quality or FIFA Quality Pro marks.

7. Introducing the FIFA Basic mark

The new edition of the manual introduces the FIFA Basic mark, which recognises minimum performance standards for playing surfaces and does not involve any quality testing prior to the installation of the system.

In essence, the updated edition of the FIFA Test Manual for Football Turf offers a comprehensive and forward-looking approach to enhancing the quality, safety and sustainability of football turf systems worldwide. The standards set forth in the manual are expected to have a lasting impact on the game, from grassroots level to the global stage.


How to Become a Football Turf Licensee

The FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf operates a licensing scheme for companies that are committed to quality football turf pitches and fulfil a set of stringent

Installing Football Turf

The installation of a football turf pitch is a four-phase process. In phase one – the tender process – the community or club should gather detailed information on artificial surfaces and define a procurement process for the installation.

FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf

Artificial turf has been around for decades and has been used in different sports – with varying degrees of success and intensity – since the first-generation turf of the 1960s.

New edition of FIFA Test Manual for Football Turf released

FIFA, in close collaboration with the FIFA Football Turf Technical Advisory Group, has formulated new testing methods and introduced new testing devices to assess artificial playing surfaces in line with the highest industry standards.

Last updated: Monday 29 April 2024 at 12:22