NFL caught napping on FIFA grass pitch mandate


AT&T stadium to change turf for FIFA WC Image: AT&T Stadium, Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0

The stadium owned and operated by the National Football League (NFL) team Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be hosting the FIFA World Cup™ matches in 2026. The AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (US) is also in the mix to capture the much-coveted final match.

‘NBC Sports’ stated that the FIFA muckety-mucks returned to Dallas (US) recently to discuss various issues, including the grass pitch to be used for the matches played there.

The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football team based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The Cowboys compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference East division.

The 80,000-capacity AT&T Stadium is a retractable-roof stadium in Arlington, Texas, United States. It serves as the home of the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL) and was completed on May 27th, 2009.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup™, marketed as FIFA World Cup 26, will be the 23rd FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international men’s soccer championship contested by the national teams of the member- associations of FIFA. It will be jointly hosted by 16 Cities in three North American countries: Canada, Mexico and the United States. The tournament will be the first hosted by three nations and the first North American World Cup since 1994. Argentina is the defending champion. It will be held from June 11th-July 19th, 2026.

‘NBC Sports’ quoted Heimo Schirgi, FIFA Chief Operating Officer (COO), as stating, “We are looking at the pitch conversion and how that conversion is going to be done to make it a natural grass surface that will actually survive the duration of the tournament, which is a huge challenge.”

The AT&T Stadium has utilized grass in the past for soccer. The prior system consisted of placing a mat of natural grass on the cement slab at the floor of the venue. Seams have caused injuries, because players’ shoes can get caught on them. To get the FIFA World Cup™ final, Jones and company are apparently willing to take it up a notch.

Commented Chad Estis, Cowboys Executive Vice-President (VP) of Business Operations, “For the first time ever, we will have a system to grow the grass during the time period of the event, and that is very different from how we did it when we had other events. We have a whole team working alongside FIFA. We are confident that we will have a very good field for the event.”

The plan consists of using a grow light system. Sounds expensive.

Added Estis, “We’re still actually piecing together the total cost.”

Whatever it is, it’s good enough for FIFA. But, apparently, it’s not good enough for the Cowboys.

The willingness of the NFL owners to bend over backwards and dig deep in the couch cushions at the behest of FIFA’s grass-pitch mandate continues to be the NFL’s Achilles heel in their ongoing insistence that fake grass is fine and dandy. Players want grass. The league hides behind contrived debates and word salads, because the owners simply aren’t willing to spend what’s needed to take care of their own players.

Even as they spend whatever they have to spend to lure international soccer to town.

New York (US)-based the National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

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