One of the jokes in football is the use of synthetic grass when natural grass can still grow. Right now, many football fields have been found using synthetic grass.
In America, there are already more than 11,000 sports fields that use synthetic grass. In Indonesia, although there is no exact number, at least there are more than 1000 futsal fields that use synthetic grass.
The most important reason for using synthetic grass is practicality in terms of cheaper maintenance. Unlike natural grass that must be fertilized, must get sunlight, be watered, and be kept in intensity for use, synthetic grass is far more practical.
In fact, synthetic grass can only be used in areas where natural grass cannot grow. For example, the Luzhniki Stadium located in Moscow. Because the sun’s rays rarely shine on the area, managing the grass becomes very difficult. This is what makes Luzhniki Stadium use synthetic grass.
But did you know that playing football on synthetic grass turns out to be dangerous for players?
Generally, playing on synthetic grass can increase the risk of slipping due to slippery surfaces. This is where the possibility of players will experience an injury.
With the contour of the inflexible leaves, when a footballer falls/slips, there is a possibility that his skin will get bigger, especially when playing at midday, the temperature of the grass will be very hot. When there is friction with the skin, of course, the skin will be peeled off due to pressure aided by the heat itself.
The blister did not look deep. But playing with scratched skin is also not a good thing for footballers.
Then, the base of synthetic grass is usually in the form of cement or concrete with hard contours. So, when falling, the resistance of the field is much faster than when the player fell to the ground or natural grass. As a result, the possibility of damage to the muscles and bones is getting bigger.
The choice of shoes when playing on synthetic grass is also fairly important since it should be able to reduce the risk of falling or slipping. Not a few players who choose to use shoes like futsal shoes with several hoods or puls that are more than 12 pieces.
Technically, the bounce of a ball on synthetic grass is usually higher than natural grass which makes it difficult for footballers to give their best ability.
To overcome that, FIFA itself already has a certification for the use of synthetic grass. That is, not just any artificial turf can be used for competitive football. The reason is that synthetic grass currently has varying quality. However, this does not reduce the risk for footballers to play on artificial turf.
Indeed, there is no specific research on the effect of synthetic grass on health, especially for children who are usually susceptible to various diseases.
But Amy Griffin, a football coach in the United States began to question the effect of synthetic grass when in 2009, he got his goalkeeper diagnosed with cancer.
Amy claimed to have been a coach for 27 years. During the first fifteen years, he never found his students got into trouble because they still use natural grass to practice football. Finally, he recorded and found 38 students of football players in the United States who were diagnosed with cancer. Generally suffering from blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.
Amy considers black rubber in the synthetic field to have a major role to damage health. Moreover, this black rubber is made from used tires that are cut into pieces.
Based on research by the Department of Analytical Chemistry Arrhenius Laboratory, Stockholm University, it is certain that rubber tires contain chemicals that are dangerous if exposed to excessive levels.
But, it’s not just a small rubber that is dangerous because synthetic grass is also dangerous. One of them is because although it does not need to be watered or cut, synthetic grass must be given pesticides because often natural grass grows between synthetic grass.
The pesticides then become dangerous when it is exposed to the skin of a football player. This content can cause pneumonia, sepsis, and bloodstream infections. Biocides also contribute to increased resistance to bacteria.
It is certainly not a problem playing on synthetic grass for football lovers like us. However, it becomes different for footballers. They play and are in the neighborhood every week or even every day. This can affect their health indirectly.
Nowadays, big stadiums in Europe like Old Trafford also use artificial turf. However, the grass only covers a small portion so that the natural grass contour is maintained. The most important thing when playing on synthetic grass is to be able to adjust.