Sunil Gulati: USWNT canceled match “black eye for this organization”
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati issued an apology Tuesday to the women’s national team and its fans after being forced to cancel an international match against Trinidad & Tobago in Honolulu on Sunday due to unsafe turf conditions, reports Sam Borden of the New York Times.
Gulati said that the federation failed to inspect the artificial turf field inside Aloha Stadium ahead of time as per its usual protocol because it expected the field to be in suitable condition with the NFL’s Pro Bowl just a few months away.
“We had a series of mistakes involving this game,” Gulati said. “We screwed up. It won’t happen again.”
Gulati said that the nine other venues being used in the team’s 10-game World Cup victory tour have already been inspected.
The stadium managers for Aloha Stadium were surprised by the decision to cancel the game and said that it was not their decision.
Stadium Manager Scott Chan told Hawaii News Now that U.S. Soccer in fact visited the stadium a few days before the game and cleared it for play.
"When they signed the contract and they came on Thursday, they made it very clear that is was acceptable. Nothing came up until [Saturday] night at the last hour," Chan said.
For the team, the issue of field conditions extends beyond this single incident to the fact that many high-level women’s matches are played on turf while men almost exclusively play on grass.
After it was announced that the game was canceled, star midfielder Carli Lloyd took to Twitter to complain about being forced to often play on turf.
The next match for USWNT will be on Thursday against Trinidad & Tobago in San Antonio, Texas.