FIFA official: Men's World Cup could use turf 'sooner rather than later'
FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke told the organization's official website that turf fields could be used for the men's World Cup "sooner rather than later."
Valcke revealed that FIFA event organizers have had the ability "for many years now" to propose that the event be played on turf fields. Natural grass has been used at every men's World Cup since 1930.
Valcke's comments came amid backlash on the part of women's players on the planned use of turf for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada next summer, with Canadian and FIFA officials saying grass fields wouldn't be tenable due to the country's climate.
Earlier this month, a group of more than 40 women's national team players, including U.S. national team stars Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan and five-time world player of the year Marta of Brazil, filed suit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association for the use of turf.
The players claim that the use of turf instead of grass represents gender discrimination, and are saying that turf is a more dangerous playing surface. The suit is expected to go to trial in November.
Women's World Cup organizers have continually defended the use of turf. FIFA has denied the claims of gender discrimination and an official said last week that "there's no Plan B" when it comes to using turf.
Valcke said the stadiums and training centers used for next year's World Cup will be "of the highest standard" and rated two stars. According to the official, a report from an inspection of the facilities in October will be released soon.
"We fully understand that the players who have qualified for the Women’s World Cup want to ensure that they have the best conditions to perform well. This is a goal they share with FIFA. Everybody can be assured that we take the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 very seriously and are committed to working together with the National Organising Committee to organise the best possible tournament."
The Women's World Cup is scheduled to begin June 6. The U.S. qualified for the tournament by defeating Mexico in the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament last Friday.
- Ben Estes