Dispute over turf issue approaches litigation stage

[2015 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP'] A deadline of Friday noon ET passed for FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association to begin talks with a coalition of women's internationals on ways to fix what they say are unacceptable playing conditions proposed for next year's Women’s World Cup in Canada. The next step: a lawsuit could be filed in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Attorney Hampton Dellinger, who is representing the players, said in a final notice sent to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Victor Montagliani and Peter Montopoli of the CSA he therefore assumes FIFA and the CSA "prefer to resolve this matter through the courts rather than cooperation."

Dellinger's notice included a draft of the legal brief in support of the lawsuit ready to be filed in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.

The issue: instead of grass surfaces on which all prior men’s and women’s World Cups have been played, Canada 2015 be played on artificial turf at all six venues. (One venue, Moncton Stadium, was even converted from grass to artificial turf to make all surfaces the same.)

The position of the players: the decision to hold the tournament on artificial turf is inherently discriminatory and injures the players in what Dellinger terms three significant ways:

(1) by forcing them to compete on a surface that fundamentally alters the way the game is played;

(2) by subjecting them to unique and serious risks of injury; and

(3) by devaluing their dignity, state of mind and self-respect by requiring them to play on a second-class surface before tens of thousands of fans and a global broadcast audience.

In the proposed suit, the Canada 2015 organizers are asked to install permanent grass surfaces reinforced with synthetic fibers (as was used at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa) or temporary grass surfaces.

On Friday, FIFA's executive committee announced it will send an independent team to Canada to survey the playing surfaces.

4 comments about "Dispute over turf issue approaches litigation stage".
  1. John M Cote, September 27, 2014 at 7:18 a.m.

    I am 100% behind this cause. The costs of grassing the fields is a drop in the bucket and should not even be an issue.

    As a Canadian, my view is: SHAME ON YOU CANADA.

  2. Allan Lindh, September 27, 2014 at 1 p.m.

    Maybe Abby Wambach should be the next President of FIFA. Brains and guts, a powerful combination.

  3. John DiFiore, September 28, 2014 at 6:50 a.m.

    People watching TV, and seeing turf, will be less likely to make the connection that this is the same Fifa World Cup that the men just competed for. It will not give it the same feel, therefore reducing interest and reducing consumerism, denying the athletes the same financial opportunities as the men. The networks should be concerned as well.

  4. Glenn Maddock, September 29, 2014 at 7:32 p.m.

    FIFA are the richest sports organization in the World. They've got more money than the NFL. This is simply their insult and disrespect of women. They could put in grass fields in every Canadian stadium, and never feel it in their wallet. FIFA thinks woman are a novelty not worth investing in.

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