After the World Cup is before the World Cup: The soccer World Cup in Germany had barely come to a close before preparations for the next one began. The criticism of the turf in the German World Cup stadiums prompted FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, to consider whether matches at World Cup 2010 in South Africa could be played on artificial turf. Although artificial turf has been around for decades, FIFA only recognized it as an official playing surface 18 months ago. Colortherm® from LANXESS has long proved effective for the coloration of artificial turf.
FIFA President Josef Blatter told the Handelsblatt: "The turf is a problem in some stadiums. In arenas with steep rows of seats, it gets too little air and sunlight. Artificial turf is already in use in Switzerland; therein lies the future." FIFA gave the green light for international matches on this surface in the spring of 2004. To this end, the governing body defined Quality Standard FIA 2 Star, a further development of FIFA 1 Star. This new standard reflects players' experiences, medical research and the results of testing by industry. Only artificial turfs that pass the FIFA test can be certified as an official playing surface for national and international competition.
Finnair Stadium in Helsinki, Finland, in which ten matches including the final of the 2003 U 17 World Championships were held, satisfies the requirements of the FIFA 2 Star standard. In fact, the Finnish stadium was the first in the world to be certified to the new FIFA standard. And Colortherm® was among the components used to color this "turf." The first artificial turf soccer pitch in Germany to pass the FIFA 2 Star field test is a pitch on the training grounds of Borussia Mönchengladbach of the German Bundesliga. The European Championship stadium in Salzburg, Austria, is also covered with artificial turf. It is colored with Colortherm® iron oxide pigments in combination with organic phthalocyanine pigments.
Colortherm® is not only cost-effective, it is also especially lightfast and weather-resistant. The pigments do not lose any color intensity over the complete service life of the turf. “Because these pigments can perfectly match the natural color of grass, it is impossible at first glance to differentiate between natural grass and artificial turf,” says Colortherm® marketing expert Ralf Gerhard König of the LANXESS Inorganic Pigments business unit. As little as one to four percent pigment by weight in the polypropylene (PP) fiber “blades of grass” provides a deep, attractive green. Colortherm® pigments are easy to process. Micronized during the manufacturing process, the pigments are in the form of a very fine powder that is easily distributed into the plastic. A special protective layer surrounding the pigment particles provides high thermal stability. They can be heated to temperatures up to 260 °C, and suffer no adverse effects during the extrusion of the colored polypropylene fibers. A natural constituent of the earth’s crust, iron oxide pigments are environmentally friendly and harmless to health. The strict U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Colortherm® for the coloration of food packaging and toys, for example.
“Colored artificial turf can be used in other facilities besides sports stadiums, such as golf courses, tennis courts, cricket pitches and even bowls greens. It is also suitable for use indoors – such as for lawn areas in roofed recreational pools or water parks with a tropical theme,” explains LANXESS's König.