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Professional footballers in the Netherlands have had enough of playing on artificial turf.

Dutch player union VVCS speaking on behalf of the captains of twelve teams in the first division (Eredivisie), officially urged the football association (KNVB) and the League to organize top flight matches on natural grass only.

This season, six of the eighteen teams in the Eredivisie played their home games on artificial turf.

The captains voiced their concerns about the “technical and tactical consequences” of playing on artificial turf. They also complained that they experienced physical consequences (including more painful joints and increased recovery time) as they are not used to playing regularly on this surface.

“I totally understand these players”, VVCS President Danny Hesp said. “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.”

Since 2003, many clubs in the Netherlands have turned to artificial pitches to cut costs. In the second league, 15 of 20 teams play on artificial turf.

The VVCS has been hearing complaints for years. In a 2012 survey, 92 percent of their players stated they did not want to play on artificial turf.

“We are aware of the financial implications the proposed ban will have,”Hesp added. “A possible solution could be the creation of a special fund allowing clubs to return to playing on real grass.”

Captains' statements 

The VVCS published statements from all twelve captains, including (former) national team players Dirk Kuijt, Davy Klaassen, Luuk de Jong, Ron Vlaar and Stijn Schaars.

“Pitches like these seriously make you consider leaving the Netherlands”, Ajax captain Davy Klaassen said. “You cannot enjoy playing football on these pitches.”

“I know for sure that due to artificial pitches Dutch football will fall further behind,” Feyenoord captain and former Liverpool player Dirk Kuijt said.

“It takes much more time to recover after matches”, PSV captain Luuk De Jong added.

“Because of my history with injuries, I unintentionally play much more carefully on artificial turf”, said AZ captain and former Aston Villa player Ron Vlaar.

“The ball is behaving in a totally different way, which totally changes the game,” said Stijn Schaars from SC Heerenveen.

“In Europe, everybody is laughing at us. It should be obligatory to play on real grass”, said Gregor Breinburg, NEC captain.

The six captains of teams playing on artificial turf decided not to cooperate with this protest.


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