Enrique Alcántara Alcover, Laura Magraner Llavador, Fernando Gómez Sendra*, Rafael Mengual Ortolà, Sonia Gimeno Peña and Celia Montaner Murgui
Instituto de Biomecánica (IBV) Universitat Politècnica de València (Edificio 9C) Camino de Vera s / n (E-46022) Valencia (Spain)
(*) IBV’s Healhcare Technology Group. CIBER in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN)
The Instituto de Biomecánica (IBV) continues to strengthen its position as a reference center in sport alongside the world's leading sports federations. In 2019, its range of accreditations was augmented by the recognition by FIFA and WORLD RUGBY as an artificial grass product testing laboratory, and by FIBA, to test most of the elements used in basketball, such as balls, video scoreboards, surfaces, baskets, etc. In this way, the IBV has become the only Spanish laboratory, and indeed one of the few in the world, to obtain all these recognitions.
For almost three decades, the IBV has contributed in a decisive way to the development of processes that the regulatory bodies of sports competitions have been activating to ensure the quality, safety, functionality and durability of sports surfaces, materials and equipment. This activity has been recognized by the most important entities at both the national and international level, who put their trust in the expertise and knowledge of the IBV to implement such processes.
As part of that commitment, the IBV holds the position of Technical Secretary of the AEN/CTN 147 Technical Standardization Committee, “Sports, Equipment and Sports Facilities”, presided over by the National Sports Council (CSD). In our country, this committee is in charge of standardizing any aspects of the development and analysis of the processes that take place in the sports facilities and the services provided in them, irrespective of the ownership of the facility (public or private). It is worth noting, within the framework of that committee, the publication at the end of 2018 of the new Spanish standard that regulates artificial grass surfaces for paddle tennis (UNE 147301:2018), as well as the work being carried out by different working groups on new natural grass standards for football, rugby and golf. The IBV is also the organism that acts as a bridge to the international standardization committees (CEN).
In the last few years, the IBV has achieved particularly noteworthy milestones, consolidating its role as a reference center in sport at the service of companies, sports clubs, public administrations and other entities in the sports sector.
In 2019, the IBV increased its scope as a testing laboratory by obtaining new accreditations from some of the world’s most important international sports bodies such as FIFA, FIBA and World Rugby. Thanks to this achievement, the center has taken another step forward in its consolidation as a benchmark for innovation in sport, especially in the development of quality standards and homologation protocols, becoming the only Spanish center authorised by FIFA and World Rugby to carry out the tests and assessments required by these bodies for the homologation of both their products and artificial grass and indoor football playing fields. In the case of basketball, after obtaining FIBA accreditation, the IBV has also become the only Spanish center that is accredited to evaluate balls, baskets, surfaces (synthetic and wood), video scoreboards, seats and bleachers, among others. We should also highlight the close relationship the IBV has with other international sports federations, such as the World Karate Federation, where the IBV acts as an advisor in the definition of the homologation procedures of karate protections and is also the only laboratory accredited at a global level for the homologation of tatamis, or the World Billiards Union, for the accreditation of tablecloths and balls.
The existence of, and the need to comply with standardized procedures for the inspection and testing of sports surfaces, materials and equipment is crucial to the development of sport. They are instruments that make it possible to establish regulations that, on the one hand ensure quality, safety, functionality and durability of sports facilities, and on the other hand, facilitate the work of the different professionals involved. Moreover, having regulatory methods to test product behavior allows companies and research centers to develop new materials, systems, products, etc. which in turn boosts innovation in these sports.
Several years ago, sports federations adopted the strategy of developing this type of procedure in collaboration with manufacturers, R&D&I centers, athletes and professionals. In this way, they developed product certification procedures for use in the competitions that depend on them. These procedures, whenever possible, are based on existing European or international regulations.
From the outset, the IBV has been an active agent in this process and is recognized by the main federations at an international level. In this way, the IBV has gradually consolidated its position as a reference point in the world of sport. A position that was endorsed in 2019 by the trust of FIFA, World Rugby and FIBA.
After a long process to develop testing methods and quality protocols, last October the IBV was accredited by FIFA and World Rugby as a certification laboratory for artificial grass products for Football and Rugby. The IBV is therefore one of the only 6 laboratories in the world that are recognized for this activity. Thus, the IBV has now become part of the TAG (Technical Advisory Group), a select group that advises FIFA in the innovation processes that will determine the future of football. This group is working on the development of new testing and certification procedures for all the elements of the game. There are working groups for sports surfaces, balls, goals, tracking systems, VAR, etc.
The IBV is also a member of the group of laboratories that advises FIBA on the development and implementation of accreditation procedures for the different elements of the game of basketball. After almost two years of work, these procedures have been developed and the IBV laboratory is now accredited by FIBA to test balls, baskets, sports surfaces, stickers, bleachers and basketball video scoreboards. Thanks to this position, the IBV works with manufacturers and basketball clubs all around the world.
Thanks to FEDER-IVACE funding and the collaboration of companies from Valencia, we continue to advance in our knowledge of the behavior of sports surfaces and equipment through the R&D&I activities carried out within the framework of the SAFESPORT project (Ref. IMDEEA/2019/100).
The Instituto de Biomecánica strengthens its position as a reference center for sports surfaces, but we continue to work alongside sports regulatory entities to generate knowledge and technology which can be used to make the practice of sports safer and more satisfactory.
RECOGNITION OF THE IBV IN THE SPORTS SECTOR