Suffolk football community confident 3G pitches are ‘safe’

A 3G artificial pitch

A 3G artificial pitch - Credit: Gregg Brown

Football bosses have moved to dispel any concerns about a suggested link between third-generation artificial pitches and cancer.

Ryman League club AFC Sudbury installed the third generation (3G) surface on its main pitch last year and the Haverhill Community Sports Association is likely to get a £300,000 grant from the Football Foundation for a 3G pitch on its New Croft site.

But yesterday, former NHS boss Nigel Maguire said he wanted the government to review the use of 3G pitches after claiming rubber pellets on the surface contributed to his son’s cancer.

AFC Sudbury director Richard Instance was quick to try to allay concerns, saying the club took advice when it installed the pitch and that it was subject to regular testing from FIFA.

“Part of our pitch is tested annually – not only on the performance of the pitch but samples too,” he said.

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“We took advice when we were looking into getting the pitch laid and we follow 100% of the FIFA and FA guidelines.”

Nathan French, football development manager at the Suffolk FA, said he was happy all the current regulations were being complied with to make sure 3G pitches were safe.

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He was enthusiastic about the benefits the new 3G pitch would bring to Haverhill.

“They’ve done a fantastic job,” he said of the community sports association. “The project has come about because they have done so well at developing their current site and developing participation over the past five years.”

Last night, the national Football Association insisted research showed pitches were “safe” and did not pose a health risk to those who played on them, despite the comments from Mr Maguire.

He claimed his 18-year-old son Lewis had Hodgkin lymphoma after coming into regular contact with the ‘crumb rubber’ while playing football.

Mr Maguire told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The industry turns around and categorically says that it’s perfectly fine. They’ve done the research, ‘we have tested it for emissions for any gasses that come off it and there are none’. That’s fine. However, there is no research that I can find and I’ve scanned and scanned that says actually if you ingest this, if you rub this stuff into your wounds that contain these known carcinogens, there is no effect.

“I’m asking for similar review to be undertaken by our government to look at the available evidence, to commission research and look at the health impact.”

The Haverhill Community Sports Association should receive a £300,000 bridging loan from St Edmundsbury Borough Council to allow it to be eligible for the £300,000 grant, if it is approved at next week’s full council meeting, following a cabinet recommendation.

Cabinet member for leisure and culture at St Edmundsbury Jo Rayner said the health issue was something the council would take advice on and would act on if necessary.

“I think it’s news for the UK but it’s not news in the world of 3G,” she said. “Hopefully they will reach a conclusion and clubs will know the best way to proceed.”

Mrs Rayner joined Mr French in praising the Haverhill group: “To be able to get the grant for the 3G pitch shows real initiative, that’s why we’re looking to support them,” she said. “It’s really good news.

“I think it’s very positive for Haverhill to have this come to them. It’s another example of the council working in partnership with our communities.”

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