Canada’s Commonwealth Stadium turf must be ripped up says FIFA
The international soccer federation is giving Commonwealth Stadium turf the boot to ensure faint white football lines don’t mar TV broadcasts during the Women’s World Cup.
The painted football lines are removed from the artificial grass during soccer matches, which use a different set of markings.
But over time, small amounts of paint stick to the fibres and the rubber crumb around them, Commonwealth Stadium acting director Kevin Kobi said Wednesday.
“The Canadian Soccer Association has assessed a number of pitches that are being played on and had come to the conclusion, along with FIFA, that a number needed to be replaced,” he said.
“What was noticed last year during the under-20 Women’s World Cup was there was ghosting on the (Commonwealth) pitch.”
After consulting the manufacturer and a paint supplier, the only practical solution was to tear out the five-year-old turf, Kobi said.
Although 99 per cent of the paint can be stripped off the material, that’s not enough, he said.
“It was that remaining one per cent on the field — with high-definition cameras and the quality of filming, it was evident you could see it during the under-20s.”
Replacement will start in April and be finished by the end of May, at a cost of about $800,000, Kobi said.
The Canadian Soccer Association is paying half the bill, as well as replacing one of two artificial fields being used for practices in Henry Singer Park.
The average lifespan of the Commonwealth surface is eight to 10 years, so the city is getting a good deal, he said.
The Edmonton Eskimos have been consulted to ensure the new product meets their needs.
The work won’t interfere with their spring training, which is being held this year in Spruce Grove.
This isn’t an example of “big soccer” pushing around Edmonton, Kobi said.
“Not at all … Realistically, we would have to replace this field in three years anyway,” he said.
“Although we’re replacing it earlier than we normally would, it allows us to extend the lifespan of the field five to seven years at a fraction of the cost.”
Coun. Bryan Anderson said new styles of turf are better at shedding paint when required.
“If we’re going to host … there are certain regulations we have to meet,” he said.
“One is to have soccer lines only visible to a world television audience.”
Edmonton is holding 11 World Cup games, including the opener, during the June 5-July 6 tournament staged in six Canadian cities.
About 40 top players filed an Ontario Human Rights Commission complaint they later withdrew. They had argued they shouldn’t have their matches on artificial turf.
Men play on natural grass, which many feel gives a different style of game and reduces injury.
Source courtesy of: The Edmonton Journal/Gordon Kent
Photo courtesy of: Jason Franson / THE CANADIAN PRESS
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