The surface is composed of monofilament polyethylene blend fibers tufted into a polypropylene backing. The infill is composed of a bottom layer of silica sand, a middle layer which is a mixture of sand and cryogenic rubber and a top layer of only rubber. The fibers are meant to replicate blades of grass, while the infill acts as a cushion. This cushion improves safety when compared to earlier artificial surfaces and allows players to plant and pivot as if they were playing on a grass field. Proponents of the surface also cite its low-cost maintenance and durability.
With regard to injuries sustained, a five-year study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that injury rates were similar on natural grass and synthetic turf. There were, however, notable differences in the types of injuries. Athletes playing on synthetic turf sustained more skin injuries and muscle strains while those who played on natural grass were more susceptible to concussions and ligament tears.
In 2010, another peer-reviewed study was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, this time on NCAA Division 1-A football, concluding that in many cases games played FieldTurf-branded products led to less injuries than those played on natural grass.
Martin O'Neill said FIFA officials should "have their heads examined" for allowing FieldTurf after Tomas Sorenson suffered a non-contact hamstring injury during a game in Toronto. According to FIFA at the time, 14% of injuries on grass were non-contact related while the figure rose to 22% on the turf.