2000–2010: All about football
Football is often known as the beautiful game. No other sport captivates the crowds in quite the same way. Some enjoy playing themselves, others are passionate about watching, and everyone knows what’s required: getting the ball to the back of the net. A few simple rules are in place to ensure that there is fair play wherever the game is played – and the majority of viewers are also familiar with these.
Go Switzerland – a small country with a mighty team
From the 1960s onward, Switzerland didn’t stand much of a chance when playing on the international stage – but then, after 30 years without success, a new era dawned for the Swiss national team. Under national coach Roy Hodgson, the Swiss team made it to the World Cup in 1994 and the Euros in 1996. And this success was by no means a fluke. During the Noughties, this small country managed to play its way into two European and two world championships in the space of a single decade.
Under coach Köbi Kuhn, the Swiss national football team qualified for the 2004 European Championship in Portugal and the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Together with the Austrian team, the Swiss team automatically qualified for the 2008 Euros because the event was hosted by Switzerland and Austria that year. Under coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, Switzerland also played its way into the 2010 World Cup.
All just a coincidence?
But what are the rules that remain unnoticed in the background and yet ensure that everything runs smoothly? There are over half a dozen standards at play before the ball completes its journey from the player’s foot to the back of the net. From beneath the standardized shin guard on the striker’s leg, the ball makes its way over the standardized natural turf, past the standardized glove of the goalie and directly into the standardized football goal.
Why don’t the seats in the stadium collapse even under the heaviest of weights? And how come the goals are always the same size? It’s simply because there are harmonized regulations in place for this. The various different interest groups come together to agree these regulations in the form of standards, after which they are then published, including as Swiss standards.
During one-on-one play, the midfielder goes down. The defender claims to have aimed for the ball. Or was his kick intended for the opponent’s shin? Is the shin guard strong enough to withstand an attack? If it complies with SN EN 13061, the player will only suffer a bruise. Tests guarantee maximum safety. When kicked, a shin guard may only be displaced by a maximum of 15 millimetres and be dented by no more than 25 millimetres.
Without good gloves, even the best goalie will struggle to keep the ball out. If the defenders are unable to keep the ball away from the goal, the goalie is the last line of defence. He must do everything in his power to stop the ball from going into the net. But he cannot rely solely on his own strength, flexibility and lightning-fast reflexes. Good gloves comply with European standard SN EN 16027. According to this standard, gloves must not be displaced by more than 20 millimetres even under great force, so that they can never slip from the goalie’s hands.
Image description: Goalie gloves (Source: unsplash.com)
How sturdy are the stadium’s goal posts? The crowd holds its breath. The most nerve-racking part of the final begins. Another penalty shoot-out, who would believe it! The goalie feels the pressure. It’s all down to him. The fans cheer when the first shot bounces off the crossbar. If it complies with SN EN 748+A1, it will give way by no more than 1 centimetre with the ball’s impact. At the top, the next extends backward by no more than 80 centimetres; at ground height, it’s 1.5 metres.
The tension becomes unbearable – the next penalty decides the match. If the goalie saves the ball, his team qualifies. Suddenly, the goal seems enormous. Can he stop the ball if the penalty taker shoots into the top-right corner? According to the standard, the goal must be 7.32 × 2.44 metres in size. So the goalie can easily reach each corner. And – of course – he secures victory for his team. They are off to the Euros.
Image description: Football goal (Source: unsplash.com)
Natural turf or artificial turf? Some prefer artificial turf, while others are of the opinion that football can only be played on natural turf. At the 2018 World Cup, half of the 12 stadiums featured a hybrid turf reinforced with artificial fibres. According to the experts, the ideal height for the blades of grass is 23 millimetres. But how is this measured? If things are to be done in accordance with the appropriate standards, then European standard SN EN 12233 applies here. It contains a procedure for determining the height of the grass. A special tool is used that fundamentally consists of a measuring stick with a round, movable disk attached to it. What is measured here is the distance between the tip of the stick set on the ground and the disc sitting atop the blades of grass.
Not all balls are made equal
A World Cup ball must meet the stringent requirements for footballs. The European standard SN EN 12235 determines test methods, for example, including the rebound behaviour of the balls. When dropped from a height of 2 metres onto a concrete surface, a ball must bounce no higher than 1.35 metres. This stops it from simply bouncing over the goalie.
Image description: Football (Source: unsplash.com)
The game is about to begin and the fans are pouring into the stadium in search of their seats. According to SN EN 13200-4, each seat in a row must be at least 30 centimetres away from the corresponding seat in the row in front. This may not be ideal, but as soon as everyone is seated, the match is all that matters anyway. But what other rules apply to the seating? According to the provisions in this standard, the seats must withstand a weight of 2000 kilogram and be at least 40 centimetres deep and 50 centimetres wide.
Cameras have been set up all around the pitch. After all, the viewers don’t want to miss a thing. That’s why it’s extremely important that the cameras have the right conditions for filming. It’s obvious that the pitch must be well illuminated; however, SN EN 12193 also contains details on the lighting required for the television cameras. According to the standard, the areas in which the cameras are set up must be 0.25 times brighter than on the pitch. But too much light is also bad. Spillover effects from lighting can bother the people living in the area surrounding a stadium – the standard sets out the permissible lighting levels for various competitions and the amount of light that is allowed to be exuded above the level of the spotlights, for example, in any given environment, be it residential, rural or in an inner city.
Image description: Stadium lighting (Source: unsplash.com)
These standards are all available in the SNV online shop:
SN EN 13061 Shin guards for association football players (in German, French and English)
SN EN 16027 Gloves with protective effect for association football goal keepers (in German, French and English)
SN EN 748+A1 Football goals (in German, French and English)
SN EN 12233 Determination of sward height of natural turf (in German, French and English)
SN EN 12235 Determination of vertical ball behaviour (in German, French and English)
SN EN 13200-4 Seats (in German)
SN EN 12193 Sports lighting (in German, French and English)
Sources: SNV, Wikipedia