Sustainable football pitches

soccer game.

In Sweden, there are nearly one million people that are active in a football club, constituting almost a third of the entire Swedish sports movement. For elite football to be played on football pitches, the pitches must meet the requirements set by FIFA (the International Football Federation). However, the rules are designed solely with a focus on football players and the game, while environmental impact and energy usage are omitted.

In this project, we focus on the environmental impact of both artificial and natural grass pitches, as well as their energy usage throughout their life cycle. By conducting environmental and energy system analyses of different types of football pitches, invaluable information is provided about energy usage in different parts of the life cycle of football pitches, along with possible mitigation measures. Identifying which parts of the life cycle among different types of football pitches that contribute to various emissions and energy usage generates unique new knowledge. This knowledge can contribute to a more sustainable resource utilisation and forms the basis for developing an action plan for sustainable football pitches by the year 2050. A significant negative environmental impact in the life cycle of football pitches occurs during the operational phase. With increased knowledge about environmental effects and energy usage during this phase for different types of pitches, this phase can be made more sustainable.

The project will also study various additional values that artificial grass pitches have brought to the development of Swedish football. For example, we currently have a women's national team ranked as number 1 in the world. Through interviews with the Swedish Football Association and other stakeholders, we aim to understand the role that the introduction of artificial grass pitches may have played in this development. Historically, women's teams have often operated in the shadow of men's teams and had to settle for inferior facilities and pitches. With artificial turf, the opportunity arose to train on the same pitches as the men's teams, as these pitches can withstand higher loads than natural grass pitches.


Without a good assessment of the current situation regarding the knowledge gap, it is difficult to create action plans for the operation and maintenance of football pitches, which also focus on energy efficiency and environmental aspects

Aim and goal of the project

The overarching purpose of the project is to develop new and unique knowledge through energy and environmental system studies and enabling a future transition towards circular football pitches, both in Sweden and internationally.

The research is conducted in close collaboration with stakeholders throughout the life cycle of a football pitch through case studies of both artificial and natural grass pitches distributed geographically in Sweden.

The project is also expected to contribute to an increased knowledge and understanding of:

  • Barriers and driving forces related to the management of both artificial and natural grass pitches.
  • How a football pitch should be managed to contribute to sustainable resource utilisation within the planet's limits.
  • Other added values related to the football pitches studied in the project.
How a football pitch can contribute to a more circular economy through its construction, operation, and destruction.
Close up of legs, grass and a football.
The microgranulate currently used for artificial turf pitches will be banned in2031.

In total, there are approximately 3,750 11-a-side football pitches in Sweden, of which about 830 are artificial turf pitches.


Brief facts about the project