The third generation synthetic turf, developed especially for soccer, gained acceptance slowly at first. People were highly skeptical about the products performance versus natural turf. This was partly because of players' bad experiences with second generation pitches but it also had a lot to do with emotion and tradition. Everyone grew up with natural turf and looked upon synthetic turf as necessary evil in sports. This skeptical attitude was also due to the lack of familiarity with the product. Very few people knew exactly what a synthetic turf soccer pitch looked like or what it was like to play on.
The present situation
Many players still prefer natural grass over synthetic but the skeptical attitude toward synthetic turf is gradually disappearing. Most footballers, once they have played on the surface for a few weeks, are very positive about synthetic grass. Synthetic pitches have now gained even broader acceptance among youth and university programs.
Football associations (UEFA and FIFA) were wary about synthetic pitches at first. It was only after positive opinions started to appear from the membership that they have adopted a favorable attitude. Both organizations have now approved the use of synthetic turf for various competitions and venues. Thus, the stage is now set for a huge growth in the adoption of synthetic turf for football applications.
Synthetic turf and professional soccer
In 2003, the first division club Heracles in Almelo (The Netherlands) took part in a UEFA pilot project in which five synthetic pitches were laid at various professional soccer clubs in Europe. Thanks to the experiences of the players at these clubs, UEFA now has more information about playing top-level soccer on synthetic turf. Based on the information gained from this project, UEFA announced that it would allow competitions on synthetic turf pitches starting in the 2005/2006 season only under specific circumstances
(pitch must be certified FIFA two-star).