Football Goalpost Safety Standards

FOOTBALL GOAL POST STANDARDS – THE FACTS

As a founder member of the original EN748 football goalpost standards committee, we have been involved in the introduction of goalpost standards and safety from the start. Prior to this, no standards were in force to regulate goalposts in any way. The death of a young lad named Jonathan Smith from a heavy steel freestanding goalpost was the catalyst to drive this safety issue to the forefront. At that time before we started to make goalposts, we had just two main suppliers of goalposts Harrods based in Lowestoft and Edwards Sports based in Bridport. The introduction of safer plastic football goals by our company completely changed the goal post industry and junior football.
We as a company still campaign to ban all heavy freestanding goalpost as weight is the common factor causing serious injury when using freestanding football goals. The goalpost standards however still to this day allow such goalposts to be made and used. We as a company always make the lightest and strongest freestanding goalposts possible. We have always designed and tested football goals to the relevant standards to ensure they are fit for purpose and offer higher safety parameters. The BS 8462 goalpost standard was withdrawn in 2016 and is no longer applicable. Our campaigning with the help of Mark Pover of the Football Association ensured lighter safer freestanding goals would be added into the BS EN 16579:2018 standard. Without our input and campaigning only heavy freestanding goals would have been included in the 2018 standard omitting safer lighter products. Madness!

Football goal testing

As all our football goals are designed with the latest standards in mind. Strength and toppling testing are done using specific Newtons required by the standard. It is a common misunderstanding that independent testing is required as it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to confirm if the products they make comply. It is a requirement occasionally when grants are being awarded that independent certification be provided but this is not a general requirement. Many goalposts made in the past have not considered head, foot and finger entrapment however this is now highlighted as being a requirement in the new standard. We use the correct weight equivalent in newtons to test our goals as tension machines may not be calibrated correctly to ensure, they are compliant. The correct weight is the best way in our opinion to test goals correctly. All our testing is videoed to corroborate results.

The new BSEN16579:2018 standard has specific slightly lower tests for goals over 10kg, but less than 42kg are tested at 1000n and 700N and football goals over 42kg are tested to 1800n and 1100 N respectively. This new classification that we helped introduce highlights that lighter goals are less likely to cause injury. We would like to see all freestanding moveable goals used around children be made lighter and to a lower mass. Adult goals are made to a different standard EN748 and testing on these goals is higher: 1800 N (crossbar strength test) and 1100 N (topple test) respectively.

Probes are used to simulate head, torso, limb, and finger to ensure all areas of the goal is compliant. Many goals in use around the country may not comply especially folding goals with steel side frames and aluminium post extrusions with open slots bigger than 7.9mm.

Net fixing attachments are required to conform as is the net. In our opinion, the net should be tested separately as these are replaced over the lifetime of the goalpost. Football goals are also with and without nets, so this is out of the control of most manufacturers. A point we made but that seems to have been ignored.

Nets are tested to 800 Newtons horizontal force and any net fixings need to remain in place and show no signs of failure. The square net mesh has also been reduced from 120mmx 120mm to 100mmxx 100mm again something we have campaigned about for many years. We have always used the smaller mesh nets from day one, we used twenty percent more net, but it was safer around children.

A new feature of the BSEN16579 standard is shear and crush point testing. This has shown that many previous freestanding goalposts did not take this into account. Old lever mechanism on moveable freestanding goals used everywhere may not pass. Finger entrapment uses an 8mm probe to replicate a child’s finger and is applied to all areas of the goal where this could be an issue. The probe should not enter or become lodged. We have designed a special test rig that uses the correct equivalent weight required to match the Newtons requirements. To convert kilograms into newtons, divide by 9.81 – twenty newtons would be equivalent to 2.04 kilograms.

These changes to the standard are not new to us as we have been making safer lighter goalposts for years within the entrapment and crush guidelines now required by all manufacturers. There is one anomaly now and that is regarding size tolerance on goal posts. The standards have tolerances on the sizes of the goal post openings, however, FIFA law one does not. BSEN 16579:2018 states that the goalposts should comply with the governing body and law one determines the sizes and shapes of goalposts that can be used. Elliptical posts were recently changed in that the longest part of any elliptical post (when one side is longer than the other-not round) should be across and not along the goal line. Many manufacturers are still supplying goalposts that do not conform and if so they in turn cannot conform to the goal post standard. Please check before you buy.

safe goalposts

The image above demonstrates testing on
an elliptical crossbar previous to the FIFA change.