Football pitch illumination: the standards recommended by FIFA

By: Secom
12 de November, 2020
Reading time: 10 min

The illumination on football pitches plays an essential role in night matches. Spectator experience depends largely on how well the lighting system has been set up. As one might expect, and depending on the significance of each event, certain requirements need to be met.

This article addresses FIFA recommendations, which vary depending on the importance of the match and whether or not there are spectators. It also includes a general overview of the main factors that determine the quality of football stadium lighting.

This article addresses...


Standard illumination for football pitches and FIFA requirements

FIFA states that lighting provisions on football pitches must meet the needs of audiovisual media, spectators, professional footballers and officials. Certain lighting restrictions apply depending on if a match is national or international, televised or not.

There are a number of different classes and differential parameters depending on whether pitches are indoor or outdoor. Let us take a look at the main types of illumination for outdoor pitches and the characteristics they need to have.

  • Category 3: Recreational use (Em ≥ 75 lx / Uniformity ≥ 0.5). Non-televised recreational games and training sessions. A minimum of 4 posts with light fixtures are recommended.
  • Category 2: Regional competitions (Em ≥ 200 lx / Uniformity ≥ 0.6). Non-televised matches. A minimum of 6 posts.
  • Category 1: National competitions (Em ≥ 500 lx / Uniformity ≥ 0.7). When matches are televised there must be no shadows at all.
  • FIFA: Televised events (Em ≥ 1,500 – 2,000 lx / Uniformity ≥ 0.7). There should be no shadows at all during important FIFA televised international events.



Types of recommended light fixtures

The spotlights used on football pitches are floodlights that concentrate the light at a specific angle through a lens-based framework in order to ensure maximum luminosity in a specific area of the playing field.

In order to ensure optimum lighting quality, all football pitch illumination projects should take a range of different factors into account when floodlights are selected.

Optical lighting for football pitchesiluminacion-campo-de-futbol

The lights used in football stadiums are different to ordinary LED lights which tend to have a smaller angle of illumination under 30 degrees. Sometimes, asymmetric light is needed to cover a specific area. The optical design of lighting installations needs to suit the different categories of stadiums.

Illumination uniformity

Illumination uniformity across the entire pitch and in all UEFA reference points plays a key role in stadium lighting systems.

Illumination uniformity can be defined as how light is distributed uniformly across a given reference plane. The UEFA requires football stadium illumination to have a uniformity level between 0.5 and 0.7. This parameter is based on a scale of 0 to 1 that indicates how uniformly light is distributed. It is an important factor because irregular lighting can irritate players’ and spectators’ eyes. In fact, achieving optimum uniformity is not an easy task.

Illumination glare

Glare is light that is brighter than a person’s normal viewing range and it can be bothersome and cause discomfort.

The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) has designed a practical assessment system for outdoor sports applications based on exhaustive tests performed in the field. The CIE 112-1994 glare evaluation system for outdoor and area lighting employs an evaluation level from 10 to 90 to define the glare index. The lower the glare index, the lower the impact of the glare.




Flicker free

In televised events, some illumination systems make images flicker when slow-motion replays are broadcast. This phenomenon is not always perceived by the viewer but it is harmful to the eye when a person is watching a match. Flickering distracts the spectator and detracts from the overall experience and it should be eliminated wherever possible. LED lights for football stadiums use high-quality controllers that do not produce any kind of visible strobe effect and this eliminates flickering in high-definition broadcasting.



Chromatic reproduction

Chromatic reproduction, which is expressed as a point between 0 and 100 on the colour rendering index (CRI), refers to how a light source displays the colour of an object when viewed by the human eye. Its finesse indicates changes in tone. The higher the CRI level, the better colour is reproduced.

LED lights for football stadiums can be adjusted so that they are more like natural sunlight (Ra>90) without adding glare nor distorting ultraviolet rays or infrared illumination spectrums. This means that colour and contrast are perceived as well as possible, even when play is swift.

Colour temperature

In national and international competitions with HDTV broadcasting, the colour temperature is approximately 5,500K. The five remaining levels require a colour temperature around 4,000K. Light source emissions with a colour temperature below 3,500K are known as warm white; emissions from a light source between 3,500K and 5,500K are known as natural white light; and light from a source in excess of 5,500K is known as cool white.

Notable Secom projects

In short, a number of different factors play a decisive role in the success of football pitch illumination. This is why we recommend working with a specialist partner such as SECOM when choosing and installing lighting systems. Barrax football pitch in Albacete; Astola football pitch in the Basque Country; Nos Açocres football pitch in Portugal; and the municipal football pitch in Calaf, Barcelona, are just some fine examples of the company’s knowledge of illumination for sports facilities.

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