Artificial turf

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Dutch study: Synthetic fields with rubber crumbs are safe

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) A Dutch government public health organization says it is safe to play soccer and other sports on artificial turf fields covered in rubber crumbs, following an investigation triggered by fears over dangerous chemicals in the granules.

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The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment published a report Tuesday saying that the health risk from playing on such fields, which are common throughout the Netherlands and elsewhere as low-maintenance alternatives to natural grass, is “virtually negligible.”

The crumbs, usually made from old car tires, give synthetic turf fields properties similar to real grass – they ensure the ball does not bounce too high and make the synthetic fields better suited for sliding tackles.

The Dutch probe tested 100 sports fields and studied available scientific literature.

Fears grow over link between cancer, turf pitches

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A parent in England has linked his teenage son suffering from cancer with playing soccer on artificial turf.

Speaking to the BBC, Nigel Maguire has raised concerns after his son, Lewis, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma following years spent playing on synthetic pitches.

The former National Health Service manager claims that the rubber pellets impacted his son’s health and wants a review into the damage that can be done if you swallow the rubber pellets or if they rub against open wounds.

In turns out these concerns are being felt on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, as just last week three federal agencies opened up investigations into artificial turf.

More here from NBC News:

Three federal agencies are teaming up to investigate the safety of crumb rubber artificial turf used in playing fields and playground all across the country — the subject of a series of NBC News reports.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced an “action plan” on Friday to answer questions raised about synthetic turf made from recycled tires and possible risks for young athletes.

“Some of the government’s best and brightest scientists are working to identify what is in recycled tire crumb, identify ways in which people may be exposed to it, and determine if it is harmful,” CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said.

Most of us will be familiar with the “crumb rubber turf” and it is those little pieces of black rubber which seem to get everywhere that is at the center of this concern.

There have been studies into the materials used in artificial turf  — most notably by the University of California and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute — which have shown no links to cancer and the English FA insist it is safe to play on the turf pitches.

However, earlier this month a report in the Daily Mail suggested that a growing number of youth soccer players in the U.S. have been diagnosed with cancer (over 60 percent of which are goalkeepers) due to the crumb rubber turf and the toxic chemicals which are linked with the materials used to make the pitches. Moreover, the state of California is currently investigating — for the third time — the safety of such pitches but the report on their findings is not due until 2018.

The English FA want to install plenty of the state-of-art 3G and 4G pitches across 30 cities in the UK, and a spokesperson for the FA told the Press Association that they are satisfied with the safety of the surface.

“The numerous scientific studies conducted by government agencies around the world, and undertaken by independent experts have all validated the human health and environmental safety of 3G pitches and crumb rubber.

“The FA adheres to the latest independent evidence which indicates that 3G pitches in the UK which are built to industry-standard specifications are safe.”

Wambach talks to FIFA about Women’s World Cup’s “TurfGate”; says players shouldn’t protest

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FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke met with USWNT superstar Abby Wambach regarding the latter’s request to move the 2015 World Cup in Canada from artificial turf to real grass.

He said, “Thanks but no thanks.”

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Wambach met with Valcke in Zurich, where she is a finalist for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.

“TurfGate” has attracted much debate in women’s soccer circles, as proponents for change note that men’s World Cup games are all played on real grass while this summer’s tournament in Canada will be on the fake stuff. And Wambach has been especially vocal, leading a lawsuit against FIFA that has led to some dicey actions toward female players.

From the Associated Press:

United States forward Abby Wambach says they talked “openly, candidly” ahead of Monday’s Ballon d’Or ceremony, but “FIFA has made their decision and they are sticking to it.”

Wambach says “it’s tough because as a female athlete we want to be treated equal and we want to be playing on grass.”

Wambach also said teams shouldn’t protest at the tournament because it would take away from their competitive aims. Clearly we’re at a point where defeat is not going to be admitted, but is a certainty.

FIFA hasn’t been a banner-holder for equal rights, but do the women have a case against Canada Soccer? Given the money it costs to host a tournament, should Canada and/or FIFA be expected to redo their pitches? And why did this issue come up so late in the goings, as the tournament was awarded in 2011?

Then, there’s this, as FIFA is clearly standing by it’s longheld claims that’s nothing will change when it comes to turf.

Turf has been a problem in the men’s professional game in America, with MLS coaches like Ryan Nelsen and players like Thierry Henry complaining about the pitch in Seattle, but this is the Women’s World Cup. All sides have made mistakes en route to this destination, but FIFA clearly never had any interest in making any stops.

Expedited hearing rejected in Women’s World Cup turf battle

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Players’ request for an expedited hearing in their battle against artificial turf at the 2015 Women’s World Cup has been rejected, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario announced Friday. The HRTO offered mediation in the process, but the Canadian Soccer Association said it is not willing to participate.

About a month ago, the players brought their case to court and argued that the lack of action to ensure players’ safety on grass breached gender equality laws.

“Given the jurisdictional complexity of this case, I am far from certain that it would be possible to … render a decision on the merits within a few months,” vice chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Jo-Anne Pickel wrote.

Earlier in the day a group of thirteen US senators wrote to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and US Soccer president Sunil Gulati to express their disapproval of turf at the competition, as all six fields where games will be held have artificial turf.

The upcoming 2015 tournament would mark the first non-grass World Cup for both men and women.

“Today’s decision paves the way for immediate mediation of the dispute,” lead attorney Hampton Dellinger said to ESPN. “We trust FIFA will join, as well, and we look forward to the talks beginning soon.”

The CSA denied the gender-based accusations against them, arguing that synthetic surfaces were merely a piece of the most suitable venues in Canada. And they also claimed that inserting a new grass surface would conflict with the multi-purpose nature of the stadiums.

“The use of natural grass in Canadian stadia would not be possible given that these venues are multi-use venues,” the filing says. “Installation of natural grass surfaces would not be compatible with the needs of other users, such as the Canadian Football League, who plays on turf.”

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Gareth Bale not worried about artificial playing surface

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Gareth Bale and company will look to keep the ball on the carpet against Andorra as they start their qualification campaign for Euro 2016.

The game will take place at Andorra’s National Stadium, which recently laid down a 3G artificial surface. “3G” is a qualification that UEFA determines for allowing matches to be played on artificial field turf. UEFA has cleared the turf in Andorra and the match will be played as scheduled.

While most athletes prefer playing on natural grass, Real Madrid and Wales star Gareth Bale said he is focused on the game, not the pitch.

“Certain players and people don’t like it and that’s normal. But we have a job to do and when you’re playing for your country, no matter where the game is or what it’s played on, we’re going to give 100 per cent and try to win the game.”

The debate over field turf has long been a topic of discussion. While artificial turf has taken over most U.S. high schools and colleges, most European fields are still natural grass. Many coaches and players oppose using the artificial surface because they believe more it is more dangerous and can lead to injury. However, UEFA has made it clear that matches can be played as long as the turf meets the “3G” requirements.

Grass, turf or asphalt, Wales will look to earn three points over a weak Andorra side that sits at 199th in the FIFA Rankings. With a squad that includes Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey, Wales will look to qualify for their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup. Andorra is a must-win game, as the Welsh will face tough competition in Belgium and Bosnia-Herzegovina later on during qualifying.