Live Borders has moved to reassure users about the safety of its 3G surface in Netherdale, Galashiels, after tests in Holland led to several pitches being ripped up.
The home ground of Gala Fairydean had its all-weather surface installed in 2011, and it has proved popular with players, but it is also used by hundreds of children and other members of the public every week.
But a report in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend told how the pitches at the Ajax academy De Toekomst in Amsterdam were being removed, over fears that the rubber crumb infill used there contained carcinogens, following the airing of a documentary on Dutch TV reporting that some of the rubber used in pitches had come from pipes used in the petrochemical industry.
The installation of 3G pitches in Holland is big business, and more than 2,000 of them have been built in the past 10 years.
It is so popular that half a dozen sides in the Eredivisie – the Dutch top league – have had the 3G pitches installed.
However, it is claimed that the safety checks on the rubber crumb infill, and on what kind of rubber is used, are more stringent in the UK than in Holland.
A spokesman for Live Borders told us this week: “The 3G pitch at Netherdale is a great asset to the community.
“We take guidance on the safety of all facilities we offer from recognised authorities and have also consulted with the Scottish Football Association. Extensive research conducted into the safety of artificial surfaces by government agencies around the world, and undertaken by independent experts – has all validated the safety of 3G pitches and the crumb rubber infill as used in the UK.”
However, the report in the Sunday Telegraph showed that a former NHS trust chief executive in Leeds, Nigel Maguire, has been campaigning against 3G pitches since his son Lewis, an 18-year-old goalkeeper, contracted white blood cell cancer Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
And the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, has urged a full investigation into 3G pitches and has stated that he would prefer the £4bn set aside for development over the next 10 years to be invested in natural surfaces.