You Are the Expert

Actual transcript of Navad (90), Iran’s most popular TV show

Special Report Dateline: Saadat Shahr

Last week we showed you some controversial images from Saadat Shahr Stadium in Fars province, near Shiraz. Let’s take a look at it again and then we will present further discussions.

Saadat Shahr Stadium is known to host Premier League games. Here is the stadium and, as you can see, cows and sheep are grazing on the pitch. We asked Mr. Ayatollahi, head of the Fars Football Association, what is going on.

Mr. Ayatollahi:
Sorry, I don’t understand what Mr. Ferdosipour’s intention is by showing these images. If the implication is that the sheep are destroying the grass, I have to say that according to Mr. Hajipour, using sheep instead of lawn mowers, in addition to reducing fuel consumption, prevents frost in the cold season. He also mentioned that their fertilizers are good for the growth of the grass and their urine reinforces the grass roots.

We have used this very grass for Premier League games, for league one and league two games, and also provincial games, alhamdulillah, and all of the organizers and players are satisfied with the field. In fact, I saw on Iranian TV that one of the European countries has recently come to this same conclusion — that using sheep to cut the grass of sports complexes is very useful.

Narrator: But the question remains: What are the effects of sheep manure and urine on the players’ health?

Adel Ferdosipour: I still haven’t managed to wrap my head around this. OK, we now have Mr. Hajipour, the director of sports in Pasargad, on the line. Mr. Hajipour, hello and good evening.

Mr. Hajipour: Hello, at your service, Mr. Ferdosipour.

AF: Mr. Hajipour, you mentioned that in Denmark, I think, they use this same method. Do you have any evidence for that? Also, could you please turn down your television, if possible?

Mr. H.: I am on the way home, sorry.

AF: So can you explain?

Mr. H.: Mr. Ferdosipour, first, I have a complaint about you and what you broadcast, which — I did not see it last Thursday, but our friends in Saadat Shahr were all very disappointed and sad.

AF: But what does this have to do with the dear and honorable people of Saadat Shahr? This is something that happened on a football field. They’re two separate issues.

Mr. H.: Because the people of Saadat Shahr play a key role here — as in all sports matters, they are with us and help us and have built this beautiful stadium. But I have to say first of all that there were absolutely no cows. I don’t know from what angle our friend has taken this photograph, but there are no cows in Saadat Shahr. Sheep we have, and they go onto the field when the pitch is resting. And we have had great results.

AF: Mr. Hajipour, even just imagining such a thing happening in a football stadium — let’s say here in our own Azadi Stadium — is a disaster!

Mr. H.: Do you mean sheep fertilizer?

AF: No, just the mere presence of cows and sheep on the football field.

Mr. H.: Mr. Ferdosipour, we have had this grass pitch for fifteen years. The effective age of a grass pitch is seven years. We have had this for fifteen years and each year it looks as if it’s new. You should come to Saadat Shahr — there are experts who should come and examine our pitch closely, and see if what we have done is good or bad.

AF: We go now to Dr. Kafi, a professor of landscape architecture at Tehran University. Mr Dr. Kafi, can you hear me?

Mr. Dr. Kafi: Hello, Mr Ferdosipour and all sports lovers.

AF: Mr. Dr. Kafi, do you approve of taking sheep onto the grass pitch for, let’s say, a scientific study?

Mr. Dr. K.: No, Mr. Ferdosipour, this is in no way acceptable. Let me explain, briefly. Our goal in maintaining the grass is not just to create a green surface. Our aim is to have a healthy surface. It’s not just a question of whether sheep so-called fertilizer or urine will make the grass grow. There are concerns about, for example, the flexibility of the surface, so as to avoid pressuring the players’ joints. And there is the issue of hygiene. When animal manure is used as fertilizer, the first problem is that it brings in the seeds of weeds and other bad grasses and spreads them around on the field. But on the other hand, the players run on this field. Even if we imagine that the flock of sheep hadn’t been on the pitch for two months, that’s not enough time for the manure to completely disintegrate. And that manure is dirty and has parasites and is extremely dangerous for any player who falls on the pitch. Furthermore, inhaling the gases and the particles of the manure that are in the air is also dangerous. And another issue regarding the football pitch is the compression of the field from the players running around on it — this is a problem around the world and we use a special device to decompact the soil to let air and water…

AF: So you do not approve of this?

Mr. Dr. K.: Not at all.

AF: Thank you, Mr. Kafi. Now let’s look at some images that were sent to our website, These were sent by a friend of ours; Masoud Babayi from Esfehan has sent them — again, a flock of sheep grazing on a football field. This is in Fars-Yasouj Road. And let’s clear this up: Are these sheep or cows? It looks like they are mostly sheep but in the back there are some cows? Are these sheep or cows, Mr. Hajipour?

Mr. H.: Well, you tell me, Mr. Ferdosipour. You are the expert, sir.

AF: Mr. Hajipour, this is extremely dangerous. I am so sorry, but if there is cow and sheep excrement on the pitch it’s very bad…

Mr. H: Mr. Ferdosipour, I am sorry, but they cultivate the grass pitch with fertilizers to begin with.

AF: But this is too natural!

Mr. H.: First, I invite Mr. Kafi to our Saadat Shahr to see our pitch.

AF: Mr. Dr. Kafi was talking from a scientific point of view.

Mr. H.: What he says is true, but I want him to come and study the pitch closely. This is an experiment that we did. Also, when the season is over, after the sheep come and graze — only for a day, mind you — the day after we take the mowing machine and mow the grass and clear the fertilizer.

AF: But if you have the mowing machine why don’t you use that in the first place?!

Mr. H.: Mr. Ferdosipour, I invite you come to our pitch, too. Bring experts. This is a creative method and we have witnessed a miracle. Come, you have seen Premier League games on our pitch.

AF: There have been Premier League games on this pitch, yes. And now our friends have found more images. It’s like a fashion now, Mr. Hajipour.

Mr. H.: Maybe it’s a good experiment.

AF: Please don’t say that, Mr. Hajipour. From any point of view, scientific or otherwise — I mean, let’s say that I and all the people from all the other stadiums around the world don’t know what we’re talking about. But if you look at it scientifically…

Mr. H.: I agree, yes. And I agree with what Mr. Dr. said. When we started this experiment, about ten to fifteen years ago, we did not have a good mowing machine. But we tried this, and saw good results on the pitch, and that it was good for the grass. Also, we do it only once a year, not every day or every week.

AF: Okay, well — thank you Mr. Hajipour. We wish you success and good fortune.

Mr. H.: You are welcome, Mr. Ferdosipour.

AF: That was our exclusive report from Saadat Shahr. And now, the rest of the program.