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The rules of the game

The KNVB, the Royal Dutch Football Association, has been having a discussion regarding the rules for the Premiership. The preliminary decision is that the organisation will continue to exist of eighteen clubs and that they’ll allow matches to be played on artificial turf.
by Christine Dirkse / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Ruud Koning

Professor op sport sciences

‘The Dutch Premiership is having a hard time competing with the rest of European football. That’s mainly because broadcasting rights in other countries generate more revenue. England has more people, which means more subscribers to football channels. On top of that, the subscriptions are more expensive than they are in the Netherlands. This means more revenue, and more money to buy good athletes. Including good Dutch ones.’

‘The new KNVB agreements are an attempt to increase revenue for Dutch clubs by making the Premiership more exciting. Fewer teams means the worst teams are cut. That will lead to more exciting football matches, especially when immediate degradation is at stake. For the three biggest clubs, Ajax, Feyenoord, and PSV, it’s a shame that not all of that will happen. They have the biggest stake in this because they want to be able to compete on a European scale and therefore need the biggest revenue.’

‘Ultimately, these small changes to the Premiership won’t make much of a difference to European football. Football is becoming increasingly global, making the Netherlands even smaller in comparison. The difference in revenue between a country as small as the Netherlands and all the big football countries will only increase due to the current rules concerning broadcasting rights, transfers, and free work movement. I don’t think that will change much any time soon.’

Toon Kuppens

PhD reseracher of social sciences

‘The KBVB discussion about football rules is newsworthy because it’s about the most popular sport. We feel involved because we played football ourselves or because our kids play it. That’s why the discussion about artificial turf is so important to so many people. Everyone who plays football or has a kid that does has an opinion about it.’

‘Football is such an important sport to us because we’re social creatures and we like to be part of a group. It’s how we forge an identity. So once we feel we’re part of a group, such as supporter of a football club, everything that happens in that group is important. Including wins and losses.’

Inge Schouwenburg

Movement scientist at Topsport Topics

‘There’s been a lot of fuss about artificial turf over the past few years, about whether artificial turf crumb infill harms the environment or players. But all the research done has shown that the crumb infill isn’t as dangerous as people think.’

‘Then there’s the risk of injury. Many athletes are convinced that playing football on artificial turf causes more injuries. They are especially worried about injuries to the cruciate ligament. But there have been several studies that show that there is no actual difference.’

‘One such study analysed 1,900 football matches. The researcher found no differences in the number and severity of injuries. But the injuries incurred were of a different type. Interesting detail mentioned in one of the studies: there was just a single cruciate ligament injury. And that one happened during a match on regular grass rather than artificial turf.’

‘These studies don’t concern themselves with small inconveniences, but with severe injuries that cause players to miss matches or have to leave the field during the match. It’s true that artificial turf can cause abrasions and even a kind of burn, but that differs per type of turf. That shouldn’t be an impediment though. A lot of people feel that footballers should just deal with small inconveniences like that.’


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