Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach

There is no player revolt at this point, but a complaint has been filed regarding the playing surface at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and that could be headed to court.

A group of over 40 of the top female national team soccer players from about a dozen countries have signed a letter that alleges gender discrimination relative to the decision to play the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on artificial turf.

The letter was directed to FIFA and to the Canadian Soccer Association, and it comes with little more than 15 months before the 2015 World Cup will be played in six stadiums across Canada. The letter says the proposal of the artificial surfaces is discriminatory and violates Canadian law.

A letter was sent on July 28 to FIFA and to the Canadian , called artificial turf, “a surface widely recognized as inferior in international soccer. The proposal [of its use] is discriminatory and violates Canadian law.” Basically a second class surface for a world class competition. The women are alleging that FIFA

The 2015 Women’s World Cup will be played, less than 15 months from now in six stadiums in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton, all with artificial surfaces.

The letter states that FIFA has never, nor in the future, played a World Cup for men on anything but natural grass. At the 2010 Men’s World Cup in South Africa, some fields included artificial strands added to the natural grass surface, but all of the playing surfaces at all previous World Cup have been grass.

The decision to play on artificial surfaces is not a new revelation. It was part of Canada’s bid package to secure the 2015 World Cup from the beginning. In fact, Moncton just installed a new $1.5M turf field to replace its original grass surface. A new grass field adjacent to the stadium has been completed at a cost of $500K.

In the past, when men’s World Cup games were played in stadiums with artificial surfaces, including indoors in the Pontiac Dome in 1994, grass has been installed over the artificial surface.

Letter submitted by the Boies, Schiller & Flexner law firm, that is representing the players, comes as the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup begins play with many of the games scheduled in the same stadiums at the 2015 competition, and on artificial turf.

“The best players in the world deserve premier playing surfaces. Simply put, artificial turf is not a premier surface in the soccer world,” the letter said. “Singling out this women’s tournament for substandard treatment is a mistake. … If your organizations will not engage in a meaningful dialogue on how to correct the discriminatory treatment of women players, we are prepared to pursue legal action which we are confident should succeed.

“Should you refuse to voluntarily fix the field situation, legal recourse is available and will be utilized. Consigning women to 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.”

FIFA has confirmed receipt of the letter, but has made no comment. Earlier, FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter defended the artificial turf in the Under-20 Women’s World Cup, calling it “the future.”

The threat of legal action escalates a campaign started by several leading women’s players last year. US veteran Abby Wambach has been a letter in the campaign, along with current World Player of the Year, Nadine Angerer.

“We offered to assist the players pro bono in order to make sure that Canada Soccer and FIFA officials realize discrimination against the Women’s World Cup is not only wrong, it’s illegal,” Hampton Dellinger told, which reported the story earlier.

The intent of the letter is to force FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association to rethink playing on artificial turf, and to install natural grass on the playing fields for the World Cup.

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