Canada is currently hosting the U20 Women’s World Cup in what could be seen as a warm up for the hosting of the senior event, the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Not everyone is excited about having Canada hosting the event. A group of international soccer players has retained legal counsel in order to fight the organizing committee against the fact that all fields will be featuring artificial turf instead of natural grass. This group is led by no other than Abby Wambach and Nadine Angerer, but it consists of nearly 40 national team players from many different countries.
No senior women’s or men’s World Cup has ever been played in artificial turf, until now and these players are not about to take it without putting up a fight. A letter has been sent from their lawyers to Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA outlining their concerns and what they feel is an inferior playing surface, and “is discriminatory and violates Canadian law”. This letter was sent on July 28th to both organizations.
You can read the letter here: Letter from the players
First of all I have to say that I completely agree with the courage’s women who decided to fight this battle for a right that is theirs. FIFA would never accept for a men’s World Cup to be played on turf, so why the women should be treated any different from the men? They shouldn’t. They have the same rights and deserved equal treatment by both organizations.
The other side of the coin is that Canada was the only country that applied to host this event, so it wasn’t like FIFA had other or better options. They knew beforehand that the games would be played on turf, but having no other takers to host the event; they turned a blind eye to it and went along with it. Had FIFA told the Canadian Soccer Association that in order to host the games they needed grass fields, would have Canada dropped their bid? If so, who would host then? These are all important questions that need to be asked and that should have been asked before awarding the tournament to Canada.
FIFA should never compromise the values of the game or the tournament, just to get out of a difficult situation, and to me that is exactly what they did. Now they are faced with a legal battle and a growing list of unhappy players that could possibly boycott the tournament.
The Canadian Soccer Association has already washed their hands like Pontius Pilates, and has told the media that any questions regarding this issue should be sent to FIFA. God forbid, someone at the CSA would take a leadership role or at least acknowledge this issue and try to address it.
In the meantime the players petition is growing, gathering traction and the reputation of the Canadian Soccer Association is being tarnish, I mean FIFA is to be blamed here as much as anyone else, but their reputation is already tarnished beyond repair.
I am sure there will be more to be written and said about this situation, the World Cup is one year away, and there are plenty of opportunities to rectify this situation, the question is, will anything be done, or will someone be legally forced to do it? Stay tuned.