Set back for artificial turf plans
Posted: 18 March 2008 Time: 9:27 am
While Fifa supremo Sepp Blatter and Uefa president Michel Platini are both in favour of using artificial pitches in Africa because of water shortages, the two soccer bosses appear to be oblivious of a negative side to the plan on the continent – torrential downpours and sub-standard workmanship.
Under the ‘Win in Africa with Africa’ project, Fifa is laying an artificial pitch in all 53 of its member countries on the continent.
Blatter last week expressed enthusiasm for artificial surfaces, refusing to rule out the possibility of the entire 2010 World Cup in South Africa being conducted on plastic.
Platini also strongly supports the use of plastic surfaces in places where extreme temperatures hinder the growth of natural grass, although he has stressed there is no substitute for the real thing.
“I think for the development of football artificial pitches are wonderful but I have always played on grass,” he said.
“I prefer grass, but now a lot of private owners want an artificial pitch because they also want to stage concerts. But it is difficult in Africa to find enough water to put on the pitches. For the developing world, artificial pitches may be the future because of the lack of water.”
However, recent reports from Africa indicate that things may not be going as smoothly as the Europeans would believe.
Work by a Ghanaian contractor who laid the synthetic turf at Tema was brought under severe test by a downpour which almost marred the Tema Youth-Sportive midweek game at the stadium.
Playing became almost impossible at one point because large volumes of water gathered on parts of the pitch.
The two teams struggled to string their passes together when the rains started pouring down - changing the pattern of the beautiful game as the coaches looked on helpless.
The National Stadium in Tanzania has also experienced a similar problem as a recently laid artificial turf there was not accompanied by a proper drainage network.
A torrential downpour rendered the pitch unusable because the drainage proved inadequate.
In Uganda, a new artificial pitch was severely criticised by some conservationists, including a senior government official, who maintain that certain environmental issues were not taken into consideration before the pitch was laid.