5.3 PITCH DIMENSIONS AND SURROUNDING AREAS
Section 2.4 looked at the design and construction of the pitch – both the pitch base and its surface. This included the different types of turf available and how to keep those surfaces in the best condition.
In this section, we focus on the pitch and its surrounding area in terms of its intended use for football matches.
Firstly, we consider the field of play and its dimensions, followed by the wider pitch area up until its demarcation with spectator areas. As well as identifying the items that need to be accommodated in this area, including warm-up areas, the players’ tunnel and advertising boards, we also consider the important interaction of the pitch perimeter and the spectator areas in terms of forward emergency evacuation.
Finally, we look at field of play equipment and benches required for teams and officials.
Field of play dimensions and pitch markings
5.3.1 FIELD OF PLAY
The field of play is the area bounded by the goal lines and touchlines. FIFA’s recommended field of play dimensions are 105 metres x 68 metres.
The field of play must be rectangular and marked with continuous lines. These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries. Its touchlines shall be parallel to the orientation of the stadium, and only the lines indicated in Law 1 of the Laws of the Game are to be marked on the field of play.
The field of play shall be level and without undulation.
The grassed area includes the field of play but extends beyond its boundaries to include the additional areas covered by turf, such as player warm-up areas and assistant referee positions.
This area should be sufficient to facilitate player safety by (i) allowing sufficient space in front of the advertising boards and reducing the risk of collision, and (ii) avoiding a change in surface immediately beyond the touchline/goal line which could affect a player’s footing.
The dimensions of the grassed area should be in conjunction with the design of the stands, taking account of sightlines and the position of advertising boards (see Sub-Section 2.3.3). As a benchmark, FIFA recommends that at least two metres of level surface (ideally the same surface type as the field of play) be provided beyond each touchline and goal line. For larger stadiums, FIFA recommends that a total distance of five metres beyond each goal line and four metres beyond each touchline be provided before the placement of perimeter advertising boards. For smaller stadiums, FIFA recommends a total distance of four metres behind each goal line and three metres beyond each touchline before the placement of perimeter advertising boards. Any incline in surface beyond two metres should be a maximum of 5°.
Recommended pitch area dimensions
5.3.2 PITCH SURROUNDING AREA
The pitch area includes the field of play and the extended grassed area, and then extends up to the demarcation of the spectator viewing areas or other boundary.
The pitch area then incorporates a further area beyond the grassed area and advertising boards to allow for the positioning of security staff and photographers, amongst others. The pitch area should ideally be unobstructed by any permanent installations, walkways, staircases or emergency exits from the stands so that free movement around the field of play is possible. All surfaces within the pitch area should be of a non-slip material.
A cross-section of the boundary of the pitch area with spectator stands can be found in Sub-Section 2.3.3. Major tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup finals can require larger pitch area dimensions.
The players’ tunnel is the assembly point for the players and the referees before they enter the pitch area and usually provides access to the pitch area at the halfway line. Depending on local needs, a fireproof telescopic tunnel can be deployed which can be extended to provide protection from missiles and other physical contact and intimidation from the spectators immediately adjacent to the tunnel area. This type of tunnel can then be folded back once the players and match officials have entered or left the field of play so as not to interfere with spectator sightlines.
The players’ tunnel area leading to the field of play should ideally be large enough to line up 22 players, five match officials and any other officials. Consideration should also be given to holding larger tournaments or events where space will be required for additional personnel such as player or official escorts and flagbearers.
The minimum recommended dimensions to allow all required personnel to enter and leave the pitch area are 4.5 metres (width) and 2.4 metres (height). The length of the players’ tunnel area may vary between stadiums but should extend far enough to allow for the safe passage of all participants to the field of play (see above).
Any doors or mechanism leading to/from the tunnel area shall be wide enough to allow the people within the tunnel area to enter and exit with ease.
Within the tunnel area itself and on the route to the pitch area and dressing rooms, protective, non-slip flooring should be in place to ensure the safety of the players and match officials.
WARM-UP AREAS IN THE PITCH AREA
The pitch area would normally contain two warm-up areas. The recommended location for the warm-up area is behind each goal (and any installed perimeter boards and/or photographers’ positions). Where this is not feasible and warmup areas are provided next to the team benches, separation should be indicated from the relevant assistant referee position (for example by way of dotted lines).
When individual warm-up areas are behind each goal, the recommended dimension for each warm-up area is 3m x 30m for six players and two officials in each area. If it is more practical to place the warm-up area behind the assistant referee, the dimensions would depend on the stadium set-up.
It is recommended that the warm-up area surface be the same as that of the field of play.
The pitch perimeter is the boundary between the playing or competition area and the spectator viewing areas.
The pitch area must be protected against intrusion by unauthorised persons. Where possible, this should be achieved by deploying an appropriate number of stewards and security personnel. However, in some local contexts, the relevant local authorities may require a fence or screen to be put in place. Where a physical barrier is used, spectator sightlines should be taken into consideration. The use of such barriers must not present a risk or danger to spectators or players, and load-bearing barriers should be used. In any case, barbed or razor wire must not be used.
It is recommended that emergency access points/gates be incorporated into the pitch perimeter. This may be in the form of crossing points (bridges) if a moat is deployed. Where there are suitable alternative exit routes for spectators, exceptions to the above can be considered, subject to the approval of the local safety authority. Any fence or barrier must not be insurmountable and, as such, alternative exits should be provided. One way to achieve this is by having additional access points to the pitch area.
Stewards monitor the pitch perimeter
All emergency gates must be able to be opened quickly and easily towards the field of play. They should be positioned directly in line with the radial gangways in the respective spectator areas. The emergency evacuation routes to the field of play must not be obstructed by installed perimeter boards or any other objects. Perimeter boards must be designed and installed in such a way as to avoid creating an obstacle to any spectators entering the field of play for emergency reasons. For example, they may be collapsible or have functioning emergency access points aligned to the evacuation routes from the spectator areas.
Each emergency exit gate should be at least as wide as the stairway or gangway it serves. They should be a different colour from their surroundings and be easily identifiable. When spectators are in the stadium, all emergency exits shall be staffed at all times and not secured by locks.
If there is a remote-controlled opening mechanism on the gates, each gate must also have a manual override facility so that it can be opened by hand in case of an emergency.
Photographer positions within the pitch area
Consideration should also be given to the movement and management of pitch maintenance equipment as well as a logistical entry point in case of preparing for concerts or other events other than football.
Adequate access in a corner or in an alternative suitable location of the stadium should be able to cater for the passage of pitch renovating or construction equipment and allow it to move freely. The pitch maintenance teams should also be accommodated in an area from which they can easily access the pitch area at half-time.
Access to the pitch area will also be required for other staff, including stewards and security personnel, broadcast staff and facilities staff. For this purpose, a minimum of two to three metres of circulation space should be provided. In addition, if any fixed security or camera positions will be located in this area, these should not impact or interfere with spectator sightlines.
5.3.3 ADVERTISING BOARDS
The pitch area is the most visible (and valuable) asset during live broadcasts, potentially seen by millions of spectators watching matches at home.
Perimeter advertising around the field of play is a common method of promoting sponsors and their brands or products. Advertising boards around the pitch should not impact the sightlines of spectators sitting in any part of the seating bowl. Further details on sightlines and the design process can be found in Sub-Section 2.3.3.
As well as the impact of spectator sightlines, player safety also needs to be bourne in mind when positioning advertising boards. The recommended minimum distances in relation to the field of play are covered in Sub-Section 5.3.1.
LED advertising boards on the edge of the grassed area
Some tournaments have their own specific requirements for the positioning of advertising boards, including the FIFA World Cup finals.
Pitch sprinklers should not be planned or positioned behind any advertising boards.
As described in Sub-Section 5.3.2, the advertising boards must not prevent the movement of spectators onto the field of play in case of emergency evacuation.
There are primarily two types of advertising boards used around the pitch: static and electronic.
Static advertising boards carry the same image or corporate brand for the duration of the match.
Advances in digital broadcasting technology and augmented reality now allow LED advertising hoardings to be virtually modified by broadcasters, presenting the adverts in a different language in different regions. The content of the LED boards in the stadium appears the same but can be changed virtually for the live broadcast.
The height of the LED boards should be considered when selecting the system that will be used. The overall height of the boards and the distance from the first row of seats needs to be checked to ensure that sightlines to the field of play are not blocked. The standard size of the active screen is around 0.9m, although the overall height of the LED unit is likely to be higher at around 1.0m.
Electronic LED boards require power and data. Redundant power supply should be provided to ensure that there is no failure of the boards during matches. For environmental reasons, a grid power supply is highly recommended.
5.3.4 FIELD OF PLAY EQUIPMENT
Field of play equipment must comply with the latest version of Law 1 – The Field of Play in the Laws of the Game.
Each stadium shall be equipped with two goals of suitable quality and safety, placed on the centre of each goal line equidistant from the corner posts.
It is normal for stadiums regularly hosting professional football to have two identical substitute full-size goals of the same kind on standby, in case the original goals are damaged during the game.
The recommended specification of permanent goals is also provided within the Laws of the Game.
The FIFA Quality Programme for Football Goals also provides further guidance and is recommended especially to ensure safety. Goal nets should be provided according to local competition requirements.
A box-shaped goal net with hexagonal netting
The field of play shall only be marked with corner flags. A flag post, at least 1.5m high, with a non-pointed top and a flag, shall be placed at each corner.
Benches include all benches that shall be positioned around the field of play for players and team officials, referees, other match officials and medical staff.
It is recommended that each stadium have the following benches:
TWO TEAM BENCHES
The recommended location of the team benches is either side of the halfway line, parallel to the touchline, at a distance of between five and eight metres from the field of play. The nearest point of each bench to the halfway line should be at least five metres from the point where the halfway line meets the touchline.
Each team bench should have the number of seats specified in local competition regulations.
Additional technical seats for team staff not sitting on the bench need to be reserved in close vicinity and with easy access to the pitch area. The number of technical seats is defined in accordance with local competition regulations.
FOURTH OFFICIAL’S BENCH
One fourth official’s bench is required in certain competitions, including the FIFA World Cup finals (recommended capacity of 4 seats). Where provided, this is often designed to be movable so that it can be placed into position after the teams have entered the field of play in front of the players’ tunnel and between the team benches. The referee review area (RRA) (see Sub-Section 6.1.6) should be located close by.
A fourth official’s bench during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019
MEDICAL STAFF BENCHES
An additional bench for medical response staff should be provided in accordance with competition regulations. As team doctors sit with other team officials on their team bench, the medical staff bench is only for those staff who provide additional assistance and resources such as stretchers and spinal boards. In some competitions, such as the FIFA World Cup finals, two medical benches are required.
TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL BENCHES
Benches should be placed at ground level and shall not obstruct the view of spectators. If benches are not protected by the stadium roof, additional protection should be provided against sun and rain.
Every seat on a bench should be an individual seat with a backrest. If benches are not integrated into the main stand structure, then it is recommended that the benches be movable (e.g. liftable by a fork-lift truck). This will provide flexibility for other configurations and facilitate maintenance.
A team bench with the technical area marked out