FIFA consultant: Football turf 'integral' to 2015 Women's World Cup
An independent consultant for FIFA said that playing the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada on football turf is integral part of the country’s strategy for the tournament and that it is a credible alternative to natural turf.
United State soccer star Abby Wambach and other international players, including U.S. player Alex Morgan, Germany’s Nadine Angerer, Fabiana Da Silva Simoes from Brazil and Spain’s Veronica Boquete, filed a lawsuit earlier this month citing gender discrimination under Canadian law because males have played and continue to play World Cup matches on natural grass.
FIFA's head of women's competitions Tatjana Haenni said no changes are planned to change the playing surface at the tournament.
“There's no Plan B,” Haenni said.
Professor Eric Harrison traveled to Canada and assessed the stadiums and training facilities ahead of the World Cup, which is scheduled to start June 6.
Harrison said he went to Canada to make sure that the performance of the practice fields were similar to the fields that will be used in competition.
He said switching to natural grass would be challenging because natural turf is dormant in the winter and it would be until July or August when natural turf has recovered enough to be in top condition to be played on.
“The majority of stadiums in Canada have accepted that only football turf is a credible surface to meet the demands of the weather and usage,” Harrison told FIFA.com.
Many of the players are concerned about being injured on the fake turf, but Harrison says the injury rates are the same between quality natural turf and other FIFA one-star and two-star fields.
Harrison said he would recommend the turf for the men’s World Cup, as it is already being used in World Cup qualifiers, Champions League games and other football leagues.
“The conclusion was that the game at elite level was essentially the same on both football turf and natural turf.” Harrison said.
- Scooby Axson