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Players Retain Legal Counsel in Fight Against Artificial Turf at 2015 Women’s World Cup

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Players Retain Legal Counsel in Fight Against Artificial Turf at 2015 Women’s World Cup
Jeff Kassouf The Equalizer August 5, 2014

A group of top international soccer players has retained legal counsel in the fight to have the playing surfaces of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup changed from artificial turf to natural grass.

Headlined by the last two FIFA Women’s World Players of the Year – American Abby Wambach and German Nadine Angerer – the group consists of approximately 40 national team players from around the world.

No senior women’s or men’s World Cup has ever been played on artificial turf. All six venues for next year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada are slated to feature artificial turf. The group’s lawyers – Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP of the United States, and Canadian firm of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP – sent a letter to Canada Soccer and FIFA officials on July 28, stating that the use of an “inferior” surface for the Women’s World Cup “is discriminatory and violates Canadian law.”

In the letter, obtained by The Equalizer and confirmed to have been delivered to FIFA and Canada Soccer, the players’ lawyers argue that the use of “a second-class surface is gender discrimination that violates European charters and numerous provisions of Canadian law, including human rights codes and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

The letter was addressed to Canada Soccer president Victor Montagliani and CEO Peter Montopoli, as well as FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter and Lydia Nsekera, Deputy Chairwoman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and FIFA Vice-President and FIFA Executive Committee member.

FIFA did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday. Canada Soccer confirmed it received the letter, but had no further comment.

Read the entire four-page letter to FIFA and Canada Soccer here

Youth World Cups have previously been played on artificial turf, and the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup that begins on Tuesday in Canada will be played partly on turf in some of the same venues as next year’s Women’s World Cup.

All 2015 Women’s World Cup matches will be played on FIFA Recommended 2 Star, considered “the highest playing performance for professional-level football.” FIFA has a 103-page document detailing its turf standards.

Canada earned the right to host the 2015 Women’s World Cup in March 2011, running unopposed after Zimbabwe pulled its bid prior to the voting process. Early in 2013, players became aware that the tournament would be played on artificial turf, and a petition featuring over 40 of some of the world’s best international players was started.

Wambach first voiced her opposition publicly in March 2013, telling The Equalizer: “We’ve worked so hard as female athletes – not only here in the United States, but internationally – to grow the game and in my opinion I think this is taking a step back. All of the men’s international players around the world would argue the same point. A lot of these guys will not play on an artificial surface because it is an injury-prone surface and I don’t blame them.”’

In a Monday press conference in Toronto to inaugurate the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup, Blatter said that turf is here to stay.

“There was a time that playing on so-called artificial turf, grass – it was a nightmare,” Blatter said. “It was a nightmare because there was not the quality; it was just a carpet put on concrete, as they played at a certain time in the North American Soccer League in the ‘80’s. But now the quality of the turf, or the artificial grass, has improved very much, and it is definitely – it is the future.”

Blatter cited spacing issues and climate concerns as reasons for the use of turf around the world. He said that the younger generation has now grown up on artificial turf, making them potentially more accepting.

“This is for the future,” he said. “If now there is a category of players or coaches, they are not used to this new technology, which is this turf. They say at the first instance, they say it’s not good. But it’s good.”

Last year, Germany coach Silvia Neid said her team is against the use of artificial turf: “A World Cup on artificial turf is a no-go. It’s just not possible. We’ll be turned into guinea pigs. It’s a completely different game on that surface. FIFA has to make sure that we play on proper fields. Or what would you say, if our men’s team would have to play on sand in Brazil?”

The contingent of players considering legal action also includes Alex Morgan, Verónica Boquete and Heather O’Reilly. Representing the group from Boies, Schiller & Flexner is Hampton Dellinger, along with Rocky Collis, Tristman Mallet and Catherine Gleason-Mercier.

Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP was recently involved in the Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA lawsuit arguing for reform of NCAA rules that prevent college players from sharing in revenues from broadcasts and licensing such as video games.

Edited by Joe MacCarthy

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Abby Wambach signed for the Western New York Flash, who play on artificial turf. Alex Morgan signed for the Portland Thorns, who play on artificial turf. Heather O'Reilly signed for the Boston Breakers, who play on artificial turf. Stop discriminating against yourself! Stop discriminating against yourself!

 

God, what a bunch of lying, hypocritical self-entitled ****-for-brains. The American program remains women's soccer's greatest embarrassment.

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I just find it laughable when those players play on artificial week in week out whine about it. If you hate it so badly, then why are you playing in NWSL? I don't think that they have a case because they can use the 2007 U-20 World Cup as a precedent.

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Who cares about the hypocrisy of the players, fact remains it's still an absolute disgrace that ALL SIX VENUES will have artificial turf.

 

double-face-palm.jpg

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I think we'd all agree that we would like to see all grass fields. But seriously they play there club football on turf fields. I don't understand the issue they would have.

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Choosing to go after the CSA and FIFA on the issue is not hypicritcal at all... It is logical, women's pro soccer clubs have little money to go after. If male players would refuse to work on artificial turf, then females have the same right to refuse an unsafe work place.

Even Too Sepp has admitted he runs a sexist organization dominated by men, with few women in decision making positions. If the CSA said ...."hey it is only women they can play on rubber pellets...we won't need big insurance policy's" the the suit will win...if players refuse to work cause the deem it unsafe...FIFA is over a barrel...do they ban players? Drop women's soccer fully? Both actions would let women form there own separate association to run the women's game.

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I support ladies on this issue. 

 

You can't host a World Cup playing on fake turf.   If you look at Men's world cup, how many time have we seen games being played on fake turf?  Is World Cup in Russia going to have fake turf?  So why double standard?  

 

If Canada is serious about soccer and want to host major events in the future, then get rid of fake turf and put on natural turf (even it's temporary).   

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I thought there was a consensus that FIFA 2 Star turf was preferable to ****** grass. Isn't that one of the reasons that Commonwealth switched over?

 

 

Why would you play a World Cup on ****** grass ?

 

Seriously, turf might be better then hard rock clay based pitches in the middle of July or August, but that is not the comparison you should be making, make a comparison between the natural grass at Saputo and the carpet at the Big O a 100 metres away and you would put the game in Saputo stadium on natural grass.

 

Given the attendance numbers for the U20 in Toronto, a mere 14k which did not look like 14k in the stadia for the second game, ( the west side was empty ) save for Tio Sepp and his family memebers ....

 

You have to believe playing on natural turf makes much more sense...

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Choosing to go after the CSA and FIFA on the issue is not hypicritcal at all... It is logical, women's pro soccer clubs have little money to go after. If male players would refuse to work on artificial turf, then females have the same right to refuse an unsafe work place.

Making a personal profit off artificial turf, then opposing it when you can gain a competitive advantage by doing so, is the very definition of hypocrisy.

 

Modern artificial safe is not unsafe. There is no evidence linking it to higher rates of injury than grass. There is considerable research on this topic. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool or a liar. The Cult of Grass is an example of the superstitious, self-interested ******** that is preventing Canadian soccer from ever having any significance.

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I can't accept the fact that Stade Saputo will be empty tonight.......so close yet so far away from common sense.

 

As far as WWC 2015,  it's a business and this is how FIFA they can make money so that's their method of  maximizing profit.  End of.

Edited by mtlfan

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Honestly when I heard that we were hosting the women"s world cup I thought it was wrong that the games were going to be played on a non-grass field. That being said the bind included the fake that they were going to be non-grass and the only counter bid was Zimbabwe, which even if they didn't pull out would have never won based on their security problems with their leadership. The men's world cup would never have to deal with this because of the fact their are nations tripping over themselves to bid....which "should increase the quality of the bids because of it (cough caugh Qatar). Honestly if FIFA had said no...literally no other country was next in line (which in itself it really sad)

 

We passed the FIFA safety standards...which both men and women have played on. If they sue they won't win, but maybe they can get FIFA to drop money on the CSA for temp grass...but is that safer?        

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Making a personal profit off artificial turf, then opposing it when you can gain a competitive advantage by doing so, is the very definition of hypocrisy.

 

Modern artificial safe is not unsafe. There is no evidence linking it to higher rates of injury than grass. There is considerable research on this topic. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool or a liar. The Cult of Grass is an example of the superstitious, self-interested ******** that is preventing Canadian soccer from ever having any significance.

 

 

The arguments on injury rates...and types of injuries will certainly be ongoing ..... but you must admit the game plays differently on an rubber pellet surface then it does on natural grass. The visual aesthetic on natural grass alone is validity for going with grass for the top tournament for women in the world.

 

Why call it the beautiful game if you are going to reduce its aesthetic value to the in stadium fan Lord Bob ?

 

I suspect the issue is not money on the part of FIFA, but laziness to insist on grass fields, when no one else wanted to have the tournament, clearly England could run the tournament on grass as could numerous other FA's ... they did not bid so FIFA was over a barrel when Zimbabwe pulled out.

 

I suspect we will soon see FIFA realize they should run the WWC in MWC countries after the Men's world cup to reap the benefits of the capital infrastructure invested by nations.

 

Every four years a cycle of international tournments by FIFA would run,

 

MWC  ( 2014 )

WWC U20, ( 2015 )

WWC  ( 2016 )

MWC U20  (2017 )

 

New Cycle starts in 2018. I do recognize the conflict with the Olympic tournament and WWC being in same year in this schedule, but it might work to the advantage of women's soccer given them a huge push every four years in the world wide media. Imagine the challenge of doing the double Olympic Gold and World Cup in one year ?

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Seriously, turf might be better then hard rock clay based pitches in the middle of July or August, but that is not the comparison you should be making, make a comparison between the natural grass at Saputo and the carpet at the Big O a 100 metres away and you would put the game in Saputo stadium on natural grass.

 

Oh I agree with you 100%. However most of our stadiums are multi-use (read pointy-ball), which leads to chewed-up turf. But this is just as much a reality in smaller US cities as it is in Canada, so I don't understand why American soccer players are making a fuss.

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Why call it the beautiful game if you are going to reduce its aesthetic value to the in stadium fan Lord Bob ?

Beautiful game, my ass.  The playing surface is the last thing I worry about when players roll around like they've been shot and ruin whatever beauty in the game there could be.  Even the Ghanian U20 keeper was pulling that ******** non stop last night.

 

Artificial turf technolgy will just keep getting better and sooner or later the economics will dictate its common use.  Especially when they can embed ads into an LED field.

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so I don't understand why American soccer players are making a fuss.

Because the USWNT are the ringleaders.  ******** is what they do.  I just hope a Canadian player isn't stupid enough to get caught up in this. 

 

If this was going to happen it should have happened years ago and not when it's too late to do anything, regardless of Crabby Wambitch's diatribe of a few months ago.

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Artificial surfaces didn't stop Bayern from playing in the all star game tonight. Or even keep the notoriously anti turf Henry off it.

There's an argument for both sides but it was obvious that most games would be on artificial surfaces. If there was an argument against it they should have said something sooner.

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Who cares about the hypocrisy of the players, fact remains it's still an absolute disgrace that ALL SIX VENUES will have artificial turf.

 

Some could have had grass, but it was deemed better that they all be the same.  So, no disgrace at all, but policy.

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it's still an absolute disgrace that ALL SIX VENUES will have artificial turf.

If that's as big a disgrace as this country can achieve, compared to the recent WC, I think I'll still be able to sleep at night.

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There was a time when an athlete would walk if they felt done wrong by.  So is Crabby gonna boycott?  If she felt that strongly about it, it would be the right thing to do.  Otherwise STFU.  It's very difficult to accept "principled" attitudes from the Wambitch.

 

Wonder what would happen when your career is on the back nine, with upcoming youngsters nipping at your heels and the coach asks you to sit.  This would be a good way to go out in a blaze of glory, on your shield, as it were, without the disgrace of being canned.

Edited by Joe MacCarthy

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Let me preface this by saying I am not a huge outdoor soccer fan, but have been swept up in the Women's World Cup/U20 World Cup fever and am heading to my first soccer game on Friday in Edmonton and I've bought a venue pack (but couldn't make last night's doubleheader). What is the major issue with artificial turf for soccer players?

 

Every NFL and CFL team and most MLB teams play on the artificial FieldTurf that is in each of the stadiums that the Women's World Cup will be held in. From what I had read at one time or another was that the artificial FieldTurf actually was better for preventing injuries than grass. I have never played organized soccer, so I cannot say what the turf may do to the movement of the ball. However, I have played football on both FieldTurf, natural grass and OmniTurf (a competitor of Astroturf that Taylor Field in Regina used to have many years ago). I find that FieldTurf is the best to play on as the traction is consistent across the field and there is less risk of twisting an ankle or breaking a leg due to cleats sticking compared to natural grass. The OmniTurf was awful and they might as well have painted the lines directly on the cement base. Actually, the age of it, when I played there many of the lines were on the cement as the carpet had separated.

 

I am not saying that one may be better for soccer than another, I am genuinely curious what the major beef is? Quite honestly, it would be the easiest way to save the Men's World Cup in 2022 in Qatar, from having the possibility of a brown field or huge costs from having to water it so often.

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Every NFL and CFL team and most MLB teams play on the artificial FieldTurf that is in each of the stadiums that the Women's World Cup will be held in.

Aside from the CFL, you might want to do some due diligence on that one.

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I think club soccer is one thing for the women's game, but ultimately the international circuit is much larger and more important to these players so they have every right to be arguing about their playing surface. I do agree with their pursuit for grass fields... Women are more susceptible for knee injuries and the artificial surface with only make this problem worse. I don't think its to much to ask to play on grass, however this being Canada is doesn't make to much sense to install natural surfaces that can only be used for a portion of the year. This should have been taken care long ago rather than t-minus 1 year from the tournament. 

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