Why it is time to destigmatize plastic pitches

Soccer is skeptical of many things. Foreign owners, goal line technology, players that refuse to celebrate against a former team, snoods and perhaps most notably artificial turf fields. But Major League Soccer is generally more suspicious on the latter than most. Ask most concerned who or what is North American soccer’s biggest enemy and it would surely be a toss-up between Sepp Blatter and plastic pitches.

While there are numerous nations around the world that debate the top-level suitability of artificial pitches in soccer, MLS perhaps fosters the fiercest such discussion. Plastic fields are derided as a blight on the North American game – and often as a hindrance to the quality of soccer played in its top-flight. Some of the league’s best players – most famously Thierry Henry – rarely played on it, for fear of picking up an injury. In summary, the artificial turf used at five MLS venues is bad for the quality of the game and the health of its players, or so the rhetoric goes.

But that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, there is increasingly an argument to be made that artificial surfaces actually improve the standard of soccer played on it, with the legitimacy of claims over injury issues caused by such pitches also doubted by medical professionals.


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