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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

October 6, 2014
WHAT ABOUT THE GRASS?
CONCACAF games to be played on the real stuff, not so 2015 World Cup

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Contributor

U.S. Women’s National Team coach Jill Ellis says the recent challenge to using artificial turf for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada won’t affect her or the team’s preparations for CONCACAF qualifying.

“It won’t be a distraction,” Ellis told reporters on a conference call Monday. “The players understand the task at hand. We played our last game on turf. They have to be prepared to play on any surface.

“Some players have expressed their views outside of camp, but it’s not a topic of discussion inside. They are professionals. They know what they have to do.”

The CONCACAF Women’s Championship is set for Oct. 15-26 at four MLS stadia in the United States: Kansas City, Kan., Bridgeview, Ill., Washington, D.C. and Chester, Pa. It will send three teams to the 2015 Women’s World Cup. A fourth team could qualify if it wins a playoff with a South American team.

But the turf issue has become a topic of media reports with Wednesday’s application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by 18 women’s players from 11 countries, including three from the United States

Although six of the National Women’s Soccer League’s nine teams play their home games on artificial fields, all of the CONCACAF championship games will be played on grass.

The women contend that it is discriminatory that the tournament is scheduled to be played entirely on artificial surfaces, a first for the Women’s World Cup, and that FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association should be compelled to install grass fields at the six venues from Moncton, New Brunswick, to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The complaint argues that artificial turf significantly changes the way the game is played, raises the risk of injury and devalues the players’ “dignity, state of mind and self-respect” for playing on a “second-class surface before tens of thousands of stadium spectators and a global broadcast audience.”

Studies have varied regarding the risk of injury since the introduction of the second-generation or “infill” artificial surfaces

.Only Canada and Zimbabwe bid for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and the African hopeful withdrew before a selection was made. FIFA has played its world youth championships for both sexes on artificial fields, and the organization’s head of women’s competitions, Tatjana Heanni , said last week during a venue inspection tour there would be no change.

“We play on artificial turf and there’s no Plan B,” she was quoted by Canadian Press.

The women have sought a hearing next month on the issue. The Women’s World Cup is scheduled to begin June 6 in Edmonton, Alberta.

   
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