“The U.S. Women’s National Team match against Trinidad & Tobago in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday was canceled due to unsuitable playing conditions related to the artificial turf in Aloha Stadium, U.S. Soccer announced.
According to the press release, the poor condition of the field were discovered during a training session on Saturday and there was no option other than to cancel play.
Former U.S. soccer star Julie Foudy tweeted a photo showing the turf being lifted just under where goalie Hope Solo would have been standing.
Jenny Taft of Fox Sports 1 also reported that small pieces of sharp plastic were found mixed in with the rubber pellets normally found in artificial turf.
“We extend our sincere apologies to those fans who were scheduled to attend the U.S. Women’s National Team match in Hawaii,” said U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe. “Player safety is our number one priority at all times and after a thorough inspection throughout the day, we determined it was in the best interest for both teams to not play the match.”
The team also released a statement Sunday evening on The Players’ Tribune.
“On Friday at practice, we lost a teammate, Megan Rapinoe, to an ACL injury,” the statement read. “Megan’s injury took place while playing on a subpar training field. The grass on the training pitch itself was in bad shape. All along the pitch, sewer plates and plastic coverings were laying on the sidelines.
“It wasn’t until we got to Aloha Stadium the next day — the day before the match against Trinidad and Tobago — that we finally saw, for the first time, how bad the stadium’s field truly was. The conditions were such that our coach shortened practice to a brief 30-minute training session so we wouldn’t risk injury before the game. There were sharp rocks ingrained all over the field. They were everywhere. The artificial turf was actually pulling up out of the ground, and the turf itself was both low-grade and aging. This was a playing surface that looked like it hadn’t been replaced in years.”
Being forced to play on turf rather than artificial grass is an issue that has come up repeatedly for women’s soccer at all levels. Midfielder Carli Lloyd made it known that she is not happy about the standards female soccer players face.
“There is a larger, more vital conversation about turf — as it concerns women’s soccer — that continues to make progress,” the Players’ Tribune statement continued. “But turf is our reality right now; we play on it all the time. This decision wasn’t about “turf vs. grass.” This was about field conditions and player safety.
“It’s as simple as that. Soccer is our job. Our bodies are our jobs. And nothing should ever be put in competition with our protection and safety as players.”
The scheduled match was part of the team’s 2015 Victory Tour and would have been the first women’s international match in Hawaii. The USWNT plays its next match against Trinidad & Tobago on Dec. 10, in San Antonio, Texas.