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GMA takes 3G pitches course online

GMA takes 3G pitches course online: Following a year of significant growth to its online resources, the Grounds Management Association launches its Level 2 ‘Effective Maintenance of 3G Pitches’ training course.

The online course is designed to help participants understand how to effectively maintain a 3G pitch to provide a safe surface, whilst meeting performance criteria and optimising its longevity. ‘Effective Maintenance of 3G Surfaces’ also helps participants understand the signs when a surface is coming to the end of its life.

GMA takes 3G pitches course online

GMA takes 3G pitches course online

With the role of grounds staff and volunteers diversifying, it is increasingly important for more individuals to understand how to maintain and extend the life of different types of playing surfaces. The course is suitable for both professionals and volunteers with basic experience, as well as others involved in sports facility management who wish to gain a better understanding of the maintenance and upkeep of these surfaces on varying budgets.

The course is available to purchase via the GMA’s website for a member and non-member rate. The association now holds seven online courses and aims to relaunch its Continuing Personal Development programme next year alongside its new website.

With restrictions now easing, the GMA hopes to reopen its face-to-face practical sessions that complement its online resources, such as its online courses and the Grounds Management Toolkit, later this year.

To sign-up to Level 2 ‘Effective Maintenance of 3G Pitches’ visit: https://bit.ly/3fKVzWG

Jason Booth, COO at the GMA commented:

“We have seen increasing pressures on grounds staff and volunteers like never before. Facilities are often understaffed, so groundspeople are expected to understand more about a range of surfaces and offer a helping hand across local networks. Contrary to belief, 3G surfaces are not low maintenance and they require a high level of knowledge to fulfil their lifespan.

“This course compliments our wider learning programme that focusses on grass pitches, helping grounds people gain relevant skills and best practices when dealing with 3G surfaces.”

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New 3G Pitch Vandalised

New 3G Pitch Vandalised: A new 3G pitch for Lanarkshire schoolkids has been wrecked by vandals.

The ground in Calderbank has been left unplayable and scorched in several places.

New 3G Pitch Vandalised

One furious local said: “our lovely new sports facility, well used by the community..ruined, and it’s only the 4th of November.”

It’s part of a 25 thousand facilty for local schoolchildren that was only opened last year by North Lanarkshire Council following a programme of fundraising.

Council leader Jim Logue carried out the official opening of the park – for which the budget included funding from the local development programme which is overseen by Airdrie and Villages local area partnership.

It transformed ground which had lain unused for years into a new pitch and running track.

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New 3G Pitch Provides Opportunity

New 3G Pitch Provides Opportunity: A new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) which was opened at Philip Morant School and College in Essex recently (Monday 11 March) will support nearly 100 women and girls playing competitive football in Essex over the next five years.

The new full-size pitch was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government, through their charity, the Football Foundation.

New 3G Pitch Provides Opportunity

After netting a £498,959 grant from the Football Foundation, work begun on the site in November 2017. The new pitch not only provides the school’s PE Department with a first-class facility, but the local community will also benefit from an all-weather training site for youth development and community projects.

Philip Morant School and College has formed a partnership with Disability4Sport UK to provide soccability and hearing-impaired sessions for the local community on the new pitch. The site will also be used by Essex County FA to deliver coach and referee education courses.

Partner club, Stanway Rovers FC, will focus on establishing three new girls’ teams within the first year of the pitch being in operation, growing to five teams by year five. This will contribute to 98 girls and women starting to play competitive football in Essex – which is one of the County FA’s key focuses.

Scott Holder, Headteacher at Philip Morant School and College, said:“The 3G AGP pitch has improved sport at Philip Morant. Students love the quality of the FIFA Approved Surface, which has led to an increase in the number of young people joining clubs, particularly football.”

“We have also been able to increase the range of sports available throughout the year as the area has floodlights, which means clubs and activities can continue in the winter months.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The support of the Premier League, The FA and government enables the Football Foundation to help improve community sports facilities like this one across the country. Their funding has played a key role in delivering this new all-weather pitch in Essex and I am delighted for everyone associated with Philip Morant School and College.

“This is one example we want to make people in Essex aware of, that they have the kind of quality pitches and changing rooms that are taken for granted in other counties. We will continue to support projects nationwide, but we cannot do this on our own, so we are encouraging organisations in the area to join our movement to deliver quality football facilities for people in Essex once and for all.

“Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community.”

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3G Pitch Enables Buxton FC To Launch Academy

3G Pitch Enables Buxton FC To Launch Academy: EVO-STIK Northern Premier League Club, Buxton FC have seen their dreams turn into reality with the installation of their new 3G pitch, meaning that in September 2019 they will launch their academy for young aspiring footballers, a feat that would have been near impossible to achieve on their old natural grass pitch.

The club has wanted to set up an academy for many years to facilitate players moving up through the ranks to their first team, producing home grown ‘Buxton’ players. This was paired with the need for increased community participation in the area along with the requirement to reduce the number of cancelled fixtures after having a number of matches that had to be rearranged in the 17-18 season, resulting in not only a loss of revenue on the gate but also from food and beverage match day sales.

3G Pitch Enables Buxton FC To Launch Academy

Playing in the Premier League of the EVO-STIK NPL, Buxton FC are the latest NPL club to select official league pitch partners, GreenFields to install their new 3G pitch. The club now proudly boast one of the highest spec 3G pitches in the country with the same product installed at the likes of Arsenal FC, Charlton Athletic Academy and a number of Scottish Premier League clubs including Hamilton Academical FC and Livingston FC.

Buxton FC made their choice to convert from natural grass to the 3G woven sports turf, GreenFields MX Elite after visiting the 3G pitch installed in Summer 2016, based at fellow NPL club, Hyde United with the same product in situ. The high-tech product is manufactured using patented woven technology resulting in an extremely high tuft bind. This forces the fibres to stand straighter providing a more natural playing experience and visual appearance.

The new pitch which has been operational for just over three months now has received exceptional reviews already from both Buxton FC along with visiting teams. David Hopkins, Chairman at Buxton FC commented: “We are delighted with our new pitch which overnight, alongside the obvious commercial opportunities, allows us to at last fully engage with our local community and already we have been able to partner with Buxton Junior Football Club’s twenty teams, including the ladies’ team. Partnering with Buxton Rugby Club also means we are now able to welcome not only all the football community from Buxton and the surrounding villages, but also the rugby community too. From the grass pitch last year, which we could use at best four hours per week, we now have a facility which enables us to become a real hub for the Buxton community.”

As official pitch partner to the EVO-STIK NPL as well as more recently the EVO-STIK League South, GreenFields have an ongoing relationship with non-league clubs and the leagues themselves with a commitment to providing and advising on surface solutions as well as supporting clubs with all of their natural grass related queries.

3G Pitch Enables Buxton FC To Launch Academy

Paul Milton, Director at GreenFields commented: “Working with Buxton this Summer and on an ongoing basis sums up for me what GreenFields is all about. We aim to help and work with non-league clubs throughout the country with an emphasis on building long term relationships post installation. Now that the pitch is complete we will work with Buxton FC to support them with sponsorship as well as carrying out essential quarterly maintenance and being a constant point of contact for any pitch related queries. We look forward to watching how the club grows after the addition of the 3G pitch and to a long partnership between us.”

The completed pitch has been tested to both FIFA Quality and World Rugby performance standards as the pitch has been designed as a dual use facility to accommodate rugby as well as football to enable usage from local club, Buxton RFU.

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Hove Haven Gets Upgraded 3G

Hove Haven Gets Upgraded 3G: A haven for dog walkers, runners, playing kids and sports players in Hove has had its football pitch upgraded.

Brighton & Hove City Council appointed Essex-based ETC Sports Surfaces to the 70x31m pitch reconstruction at Hove Park, East Sussex.

Hove Haven Gets Upgraded 3G

The project consisted of the resurfacing of an existing Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) with a modern 3G artificial grass surface, fencing, pitch divider, sports equipment & associated works.

AGPs are commonly Astroturf, but ETC combine this surface with their 3G surface to make a more durable pitch that is all-weather.

ETC worked alongside Desso Sports UK, who supplied the iQ3 50 artificial grass, while Zaun Ltd manufactured and provided 225m of its Duo8 Super Rebound sports fencing system plus two pairs of double gates and one single leaf pedestrian gate.

Duo8 Super Rebound forms a robust play area that is highly durable, low maintenance and ‘graffiti-proof’, with great rebound properties similar to a wall and rubber inserts between panels and posts to keep ‘rattle’ during play to a minimum.

Hove Park is popular with local residents, dog walkers and runners.  The park covers almost 40 acres and features a mix of large areas of open grass, mature trees, flower beds and recreational facilities.

At the eastern edge of the Park is the ‘Fingermaze’, a piece of public sculpture carved into the park and lined with stone and lime mortar.  The Fingermaze is a giant fingerprint which incorporates a Cretan labyrinth within its whirling design.

The 3G football surface is growing in popularity among clubs and schools as one of the best synthetic pitches.

3G pitches are split into two broad varieties: the dynamic base, which is a hardwearing, cost-effective choice of synthetic grass surface; or the non-abrasive engineered base, considered the optimum 3G pitch with the ideal look, feel and endurance, providing the right shock and slide performance. A major advantage of modern all-weather artificial pitches is their adaptability.

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PFA Chief Urges 3G Change

PFA Chief Urges 3G Change: Hamilton and Kilmarnock’s astroturf surfaces have been branded two of the three worst pitches in Scotland.

PFA Scotland chief Fraser Wishart says it is time clubs started listening to top-flight players when they say they hate playing on plastic pitches.

PFA Chief Urges 3G Change

Hamilton and Kilmarnock’s astroturf surfaces have been branded two of the three worst pitches in Scotland following a survey of the nation’s professionals.

Players from the 42 SPFL clubs were asked to rate the pitches at away grounds as part of a study organised jointly by PFA Scotland, Sports Labs and the Scottish Football Association.

And it was Accies that got the biggest thumbs down, with players scoring it on average just 1.18 out of 5. The artificial surface at Rugby Park scored just 1.70.

Newly-promoted Livingston’s decision to install their own 4G pitch next season means a quarter of Ladbrokes Premiership grounds will stage games on plastic next term.

The good news for Wishart’s members is that Hamilton have already started work on installing a upgraded astroturf surface ahead of the new season but the union boss insists clubs should be made to replace deteriorating surfaces sooner – if not told to rip them up for good.

He said: “We want to have a proper debate about the level that artificial surfaces should be used.

“The results of this survey say the players in the Premiership don’t want to play on it.

“Of course, as you go down the leagues there is perhaps a place for them but we need to have regulation in place that means clubs are putting aside a sinking fund, money which means they can be replaced sooner because they do deteriorate.

“When they are being used day in, day out for community use, that’s fantastic but that means the surface on a Saturday isn’t as good as they do deteriorate quicker.

“So we need to open up a proper debate and club owners and decision-makers have to listen to what the players are saying.

“They have voted in numbers to say they don’t like artificial surfaces and that is something that should be looked at.”

Graeme Glen of League Two minnows Stirling Albion was named Groundsman of the Year after the surface at Forthbank Stadium came out on top of the study with a score of 4.43.

Motherwell’s Fir Park has been voted the top performing Premiership pitch and fourth overall after the Steelmen invested considerable sums bringing their surface up to scratch.

Back in 2010 they were warned they could face sanctions if they did not improve the quality of their rutted playing field and now Wishart hopes other clubs will follow Well’s lead.

“I watched a game earlier this season – I won’t say where – but I felt it was almost dangerous with big chunks of turf coming up,” he said.

“So both teams ended up playing back to front because they couldn’t play through the midfield area.

“If we’re going to try to develop our game and get a far better product for supporters then the surfaces have to be up to scratch. You wouldn’t ask Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy to putt on bumpy greens – because they couldn’t.

“If you have a great surface you get a great product.”

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Rugby Players Suffer 3G Burns

Rugby Players Suffer 3G Burns: The Scarlets have seen their training plans hindered ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 final against Leinster as a number of their players are nursing nasty burns and blisters after the semi-final victory over Glasgow on Scotstoun’s artificial surface.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has revealed he had to cancel training yesterday and a number of his players won’t be risked today because of the wounds they suffered during the 28-13 victory.

Rugby Players Suffer 3G Burns

“There are a lot of bad burns,” said Pivac.

“No-one trained yesterday in terms of any rugby work on the field and there will be some who won’t train today which is unfortunate, but we will have a full training session on Thursday.

“It’s things that won’t stop them playing, but it’s not ideal.”

Pivac added: “We would always do a bit of a flush (training run) on a Monday, especially after a Friday game; but the main thing is to make the burns heals up. To run around and knock the skin off again is not the ideal situation.”

It is not the first time that artificial surfaces have come under the spotlight.

Pontypridd’s Sardis Road surface was investigated last season after Merthyr players complained of burns and cuts.

Pivac himself has also raised concerns about injuries suffered by his players at the Arms Park.

Asked to comment specifically on the Scotstoun pitch, he said: “It was very bad on the weekend. It was very dry.

“I am not sure what other teams have had, we had got a lot of burns, a lot of bad grazing and blisters. It was very firm.

“These things will heal up, but it is just frustrating at the early part of the week.

“It is what it is, you have got to play on them and you have got to accept, it but I am not a fan.”

Both Wales international Steff Evans and Kiwi full-back Johnny McNicholl spoke to the media at today’s press conference at Parc y Scarlets and both had nasty cuts and grazes to their arms and legs.

McNicholl said: “I have got a dozen of them. It has not been a couple of nice nights sticking to the sheets.

“It is not a nice pitch to play on.

“Under foot it is good when you are doing footwork. As soon as you hit the deck it affects your joints as well.

“I would prefer not to play on them. I remember going down on the deck for the ball and I got this massive grass burn on my backside.

“It was like a carpet burn. I said to the trainer straight after with a few swear words that I felt this pitch should be illegal.

“I don’t like playing on them because they are high risk for injury.

“I could not train yesterday because of the burns and my feet were numb.

“This is the only surface I have played on so I can’t judge anyone.

“I think they would be pretty similar especially on a dry day. It heats up and it is like carpet.

“You are not meant to slide and I did a few times. It was horrible.”

Evans added: “Obviously we didn’t train yesterday because a lot of players had burns and it is going to be tough one today again.

“These are going to be stuck with me for a while, it is a tough field that 4G.

“It was just really dry.

“It wasn’t soft, it was a hard ground, compared to the Arms Park and Saracens it was totally different.

“The weather didn’t help, it was like playing on carpet, it was shocking.

“It’s blisters with a bit of pus coming out. You are waking up in bed and the sheets are stuck to your leg about seven times a night. It is not great, you have just got to crack on.

“But you can’t concentrate on the burns, there is something more important to look forward to this weekend.”

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Dorchester’s 3G Pitch Underway

Dorchester’s 3G Pitch Underway: Matt Lucas, chairman of Dorchester Town believes the installation of the Magpies’ new 3G artificial pitch is a “massive step” for the Avenue Stadium club.

Preparation work yesterday began on the surface, with the grass being sprayed ready for removal on Tuesday, May 8.

Dorchester's 3G Pitch Underway

That came after Dorchester Town Reserves lost 3-1 to Poole Town in the final ever game on the existing turf on Monday night.

And Lucas is pleased that the hours of work undertaken by the club’s sub-committee will finally come to fruition.

He told Echosport: “It’s a massive step and we’re really excited. The grass is being sprayed before the contractors come in on May 8, then they will begin taking away all the excess.

“It’s really starting in earnest, we’re really excited. It’s great to be able to achieve what we as a club have achieved with having it.

“A hell of a lot of work has gone into it over a long period of time. Our thanks go to West Dorset Council, Dorchester Town Council, Dorchester Town Youth and the Section 106 Committee – the sub-committee has worked so hard in finding the right pathway for us.”

With the overhaul of the Magpies’ pitch aimed at bringing the local community and local football together, Lucas is particularly heartened by the good spirit behind the pitch project.

He said: “What’s been great is that everyone has come in and been involved in getting the 3G and of course the supporters and people that follow the club in purchasing the squares.

“It’s really, really positive seeing everybody pulling together and getting ready for next season.

“We obviously see it as a great thing for the place as a whole because football is going to be available for an awful lot of people in the area.

“What makes it for me is how everybody is coming together to make this happen. I would personally like to thank the sub-committee that have been planning everything over a long period of time.

“I’m extremely pleased for them that we’ve got to the stage we’re at now,” he said.

The Magpies have installed a camera to map the progress of the installation from start to finish. Updates will be available on all of the club’s social media channels.

Dorchester Town’s end-of-season presentation evening will be held at the Avenue Stadium on Saturday, May 12.

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Sutton’s 3G Pitch Dilemma

Sutton’s 3G Pitch Dilemma: Sutton United will tear up their 3G pitch and replace it with grass at a cost of £300,000 if they win promotion from the National League after admitting defeat in their fight to allow the surface in the EFL.

Sutton are third in the National League but under Football League rules the club would be refused entry to League Two next season if they kept their pitch as it was.

Sutton's 3G Pitch Dilemma

And, in a bizarre twist, should they win promotion and refuse to lay grass turf they would be demoted to National League South.

Sutton hosted Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and it had been suggested they would prefer to keep the pitch and remain a non‑League club.

But Sutton chairman Bruce Elliott has confirmed that, if they win promotion, the club will install a grass pitch.

Sutton spent £420,000 to install their 3G pitch in 2015 and have urged the EFL to change their rules. However, that would require the backing of the majority of EFL clubs and Elliott says there is “no appetite” for that.

Artificial surfaces were banned from English professional leagues in 1995 but Elliott said: “It is frustrating because these pitches are clearly acceptable now. They have moved on from those pitches that came in at Luton and QPR many years ago. Technology has moved on. People are not using the same computer they were using 30 years ago and artificial surfaces have moved on with technology.

“It is frustrating that World Cup games can be played on them, as can European games, FA Cup matches but not games in League One or League Two.

“But you have to accept the rules. If we get promoted we will have to take up our 3G pitch and replace it with grass.

“It would be a sad day because it has been brilliant for us but you always want to play at the best level you can and if we can get into the Football League for the first time in the club’s 120-year history then of course we will do.

“We believe 3G is the way forward, however, if we have to take what we see as a backwards step to move forward then needs must.”

Part-timers Sutton lost 2-1 to Halifax Town last night but are in a play-off position with four games remaining.

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Can The MLS Be World-Class On 3G?

Can The MLS Be World-Class On 3G?: Reliably unconventional, Zlatan Ibrahimovic spurned a $100m offer from China in order to take a $1.5m-per-year offer from the Los Angeles Galaxy, according to Sports Illustrated. But will the striker be eccentric enough to turn up for an away game against the New England Revolution?

After his matchwinning debut in last Saturday’s Los Angeles derby – the most deranged 90 minutes in MLS history – everyone wants to see the Swede play.
Still, the 36-year-old has recently returned from a serious knee injury, so Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy’s coaching staff will have judgment calls to make later in the season as the league’s most famous name tries to stay healthy. The Galaxy have four MLS fixtures on artificial turf scheduled between June and October (though Ibrahimovic may yet  play at this summer’s World Cup). Fearing injury, some veteran stars have skipped games on artificial surfaces over the years, dealing blows to MLS’s reputation.

Can A League Be World-Class On 3G?

The only time Thierry Henry played on the widely-reviled artificial turf of Gillette Stadium, the home of the Revolution, was a play-off game in 2014 that turned out to be the last match of his career. Didier Drogba also sought to avoid fake grass. David Beckham, usually so emollient in interviews, was an anti-turf absolutist: “Every game, every team should have grass, without a doubt,” he told reporters in 2007.

We wait to see whether a man who once slammed France merely because he thought a referee had a bad game will have any thoughts to share on a subject that tends to provoke strong emotions.

The league added to its synthetic collection last year when Atlanta and Minnesota  – who face off last Saturday – joined Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and New England. (Minnesota’s permanent home, set to open next year, will have grass).

This clearly matters to the players. An ESPN anonymous survey of current MLS members published last month asked whether an artificial surface would influence a player’s decision to join a team: 63% said yes. Perhaps not unrelated, another question asked them to name the toughest place to play in MLS and four of the top eight answers were teams with artificial turf.

Turf wars are commonplace in North America. Earlier this month the cost of laying temporary grass at BC Place was reportedly among the factors that caused Vancouver to withdraw from contention as a host city for the 2026 World Cup bid, while the use of artificial fields at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada was the subject of failed legal action.

True or not, artificial fields are perceived to increase injury risk and enhance home advantage in a league in which road results are notoriously poor. They are freighted with memories of the North American Soccer League’s dire surfaces, and away from Portland, where complex factors influence the choice, are a sign of MLS’s subservience to American football in shared venues.

Pitch variations invite us to define what counts as “authentic”: a perennial concern for MLS, which is adolescent and distinctive yet obsessed with tradition and how it stacks up against more established leagues. In a quest for instant credibility, newborn franchises such as Atlanta and Minnesota drape themselves in Anglicized affectations such as “United” and “Football Club”. The branding glances towards England where, as the Premier League’s rules tersely state: “No League Match shall be played on an Artificial Surface”. It’s an homage to the kind of Euro superclubs who insist on temporary grass pitches being installed over artificial surfaces when they visit the US on summer tours.

Like shoppers at an urban farmers market, fans instinctively prefer organic to genetically-modified ingredients. Still, turf versus grass is habitually presented as a binary opposition when the reality is more nuanced. Enhanced hybrid surfaces where artificial fibres act to strengthen the natural grass are ubiquitous in England’s top-flight. The expectation of competitive imbalance on turf, one 2016 study found, does not reflect the truth.

A good artificial surface may play truer than a lousy natural one and technology is far advanced from the “Astroturf burn” eras, when players who attempted sliding tackles in shorts often looked like they’d just spent 90 minutes in the company of an arsonist. As the Portland Timbers owner, Merritt Paulson, told FourFourTwo last year: “There is a massive difference between the quality of turf fields that you can host a soccer game on, just like there is a very big difference on the quality of a grass pitch for a game.”

And the argument that artificial turf is only for unserious soccer nations is hard to sustain given its presence in Mexico and France in recent years, while in 2016-17, one-third of the Eredivisie’s teams had it (which prompted a revolt from the Dutch players’ union).

For Wilmer Cabrera, the Houston Dynamo head coach, artifice is just another hill to climb in MLS’ undulating landscape. “Here in MLS you have to play on turf and you have to play on grass, you have to travel 5,000 miles back and forth, you have to play in humidity or cold weather, snow or wind,” he said. “Pounding on [an artificial] surface it’s gonna get you more tired, the muscles are going to suffer a little bit more and the joints, but we don’t make any kind of excuses.” Cabrera’s team beat the Timbers 2-1 at Providence Park in last year’s playoffs before losing 3-0 to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in the Western Conference finals.

Houston is arguably the cradle of fake grass, since the Astros baseball team popularised it by using AstroTurf in the Astrodome in the 1960s. Despite the city’s brutal summer weather and the multiple teams that use BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo play on grass that, by last year’s postseason, was so badly cut up that it looked like the field had hosted a tunneling contest for moles.

No stranger to the treatment room, Philippe Senderos would have felt wary about joining Houston if their pitch was plastic. “I think knowing that the Houston Dynamo play on grass was definitely a factor [in me joining the club]. If it would had been on turf I would have had to think about it a little bit more,” he said.

Standing on the Dynamo’s verdant practice field, Andrew Wenger took a pragmatic view. “There’s a lot of aspects that goes into making, or considering, a league the best in the world and that’s probably a very small, minute effect,” the veteran attacker said. “Would you rather have everything be on grass? Yes. But is playing in the climate of North America different from other places in the world? That’s also true. So how do you balance all these balls in the air, and making it the best but also dealing with what we’re presented? That’s a big question.”

Looking to the medium- and long-term, extreme weather from climate change may complicate the use of grass pitches in some parts of the continent, while it’s logical to expect that artificial surfaces will continue to improve, blurring the distinction between synthetic and natural. MLS may never be all-grass, and one day, long after Ibrahimovic is gone, maybe that won’t matter.

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