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Prominent soccer league bans problematic landscaping material with hazardous effects: 'An almost unanimous preference'

"Yes! Yes! Yes!"

“Yes! Yes! Yes!"

Photo Credit: iStock

The highest level of men's professional soccer in the Netherlands has opted to outlaw synthetic turf fields by the start of the 2025-26 season.

The governing body of the Eredivisie voted in conjunction with the 18 teams currently in the league earlier this year to move to either natural or hybrid playing surfaces. 

While a few teams in the Eredivisie already play on real grass, those that do not have two years to make the transition. Furthermore, any team that plays in the lower tiers of Dutch professional soccer must switch to natural or hybrid pitches should they get promoted to the top league.

Clubs that had installed the plastic fields did so with the hopes of limiting maintenance costs and preventing the effects of winter from waterlogging or freezing the surface.

However, "[t]here is an almost unanimous preference for football on real grass," wrote Dennis van Bergen and Sjoerd Mossou for the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. 

Players had previously voiced concerns over artificial surfaces because of the potential increase in lower-body injuries, but the switch is beneficial for several other reasons.

A 2016 study by the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, a broadcasting organization in the Netherlands, warned that the rubber fields it surveyed contained up to six times the amount of cancer-causing compounds permitted in consumer products. In the United States, the material has been linked to at least six deaths of baseball players. 

Artificial grass also typically contains forever chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can lead to severe health conditions such as developmental effects in children and some types of cancer, per the Environmental Protection Agency

The hazards of synthetic fields extend to the environment, as the plastic grass and rubber can leach microplastics and PFAS that pollute water systems. 

Some Reddit users expressed their joy in the comment section of a post that broke the news.

"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Etc….," wrote one commenter.

"Finally. I have already reached the point where I no longer look forward to my club having to play football on artificial grass," said another in a comment that was translated. 

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