The war on artificial turf

Tweet From Basketball Star Kobe Bryant

Tweet From Basketball Star Kobe Bryant

Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant tweeted a gruesome picture, but it had nothing to do with any injury that he sustained. This was a picture of US Women’s National Team member Sydney Leroux’s legs after playing a game on artificial turf in Salt Lake City. This has been a huge concern for women’s soccer players because the field surface for the 2015 Women’s World Cup with be played on an artificial surface when the world cup is held in Canada. Kobe Bryant is one of the few non-soccer player celebrities that are supporting the worldwide campaign to have the world cup playing surface changed to a grass field for 2015.

As of today, all 6 stadiums that will be used to host the 2015 Women’s World Cup will be using the artificial turf field surfaces. There is a coalition of over 50 star women’s soccer players from across the globe, including USA superstars Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, who have decided that they are going to retain legal counsel on the grounds of gender discrimination. Their argument is that not once has the men’s World Cup has never been played on any surface but natural grass and that it is unfair that they would have to play on the artificial surface. One of the demands that this group has is that the Canadian Soccer Association, CSA, lay temporary grass fields over the artificial turf surface.

But the CSA is not going down without a fight, as president Victor Montagliani called the charges of discrimination “nothing but misinformation and typical hyperbole.” He is also claiming that CSA’s $4 million annual budget for women’s soccer programs is almost double of their male counterparts. This isn’t the first time that the CSA has been in hot water with their women’s team, they almost went on strike before the 2011 World Cup because “ad-hoc compensation.” There has also been another Canadian Soccer Association official that has been on record saying that the Canadian Men’s team would never play a World Cup qualifier on field turf because “our coaching staff and players prefer grass.”

But what about the voices of the women’s players, who also stated, that they also prefer to play on a grass surface. It was found in a recent FIFA report which surveyed 190 female players during the 2013 Algarve Cup, that 77 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “all matches at a major tournament should be played on natural turf.” Yet it seems as though the women’s voices and concerns about the playing surfaces are falling on deaf ears.