FOOTBALLERS in the Netherlands have called for artificial pitches to be banned and grass surfaces made compulsory.
Six of the 18 teams in the Dutch top-flight use artificial turf in their home grounds, but captains of the remaining 12 clubs have united to demand that natural grass becomes obligatory.
The players complained of surfaces leading to an increased risk of injury, longer recovery time and a different style of play during matches.
On Thursday, the Dutch player union VVCS officially urged the country’s football association to organises games on natural pitches only.
“I totally understand these players”, VVCS President Danny Hesp told the world players’ union FIFPro.
“Playing football on artificial turf changes the game and negatively influences the development of Dutch football. To stop these trends, we jointly have to work on liberating the Eredivisie from artificial turf.
“We are aware of the financial implications the proposed ban will have. A possible solution could be the creation of a special fund allowing clubs to return to playing on real grass.”
In Scotland, Hamilton Academical and Kilmarnock are the only two Premiership teams with artificial pitches, while several others in lower leagues, including Falkirk and Queen of the South, have also had them installed.
Twelve Eredivisie captains, including former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt, published statements speaking out against artificial surfaces today.
“I know for sure that due to artificial pitches Dutch football will fall further behind,” Kuyt said.
Ajax skipper Davy Klaasen said: “Pitches like these seriously make you consider leaving the Netherlands. You cannot enjoy playing football on these pitches.”
Former Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar, now captaining AZ Alkmaar, added: “Because of my history with injuries, I unintentionally play much more carefully on artificial turf.”
NEC captain Gregor Breinburg didn’t hold back in his assessment of the situation: “In Europe, everybody is laughing at us,” he said. “It should be obligatory to play on real grass.”