Please keep on the grass


Its been announced that 5 our of the 6 venues being used when Canada hosts the 2015 women’s world cup will have artificial pitches and not grass.  Not surprisingly many of the female athletes haven’t been too impressed with this revelation, seeing it not only as a battle ground for more frequent and possibly worse injuries (least of all the turf burn when you fall over) but also as a slight on the woman’s game.  As Abby Wambach, part of Team USA’s gold medal squad and reigning World Player of the Year, pointed out -‘Would they ever let the men’s World Cup be played on an artificial surface?’

The answer is no, probably not.  In fact when Wambach goes on to say how Thierry Henry refused to play on most artificial surfaces throughout his time MLS, the point is emphasised further.  Henry, a player of the same status in his day in the men’s game as Wambach is now in the women’s game,  was allowed to sit out of key matches because he disliked the pitch, whether through the threat of increased injury or the way the ball played, where as the women are expected to play the most important games of their international careers on artificial turf. Somehow it doesn’t seem particularly fair.

Speaking to BBC Worldwide, USA Midfielder Carli Lloyd also expressed her disappointment at playing on the artificial pitches. Her main concern were the injuries and increased time taken to recover after a game on that surface.  For a one off match it seems there wouldn’t be such a problem, but many teams could see their entire tournament being played out at venues with an artificial surface, doing more damage to their joints than if they played on grass.

In problem lies in Canada’s chilly climate.  With guaranteed snow for most of the winter, many of Canada’s main stadiums have adopted an artificial surface to make sure there are no issues or postponed matches thanks to grass turf damaged or the ground frozen by snow.  They also tend to host a lot of American Football games which are usually played on artificial surfaces.  Still Wambach et all have issued the rallying cry and are encouraging other players around the world to take up the issue also.  There’s still two years to go, plenty of time to put down a real surface for the women to play a real game on.


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One comment

  1. It’s not the first time that the women’s World Cup has been used as an experiment in a way that they wouldn’t dare with the men. In the 1995 World Cup they tried to bring in time-outs which I don’t think anybody used, certainly not England, and that was the end of that.
    Artificial pitches seems more serious however since no-one has any real choice about it. Was this part of the Canadian bid? This seems to be every bit as questionable as the awarding of the men’s World Cup to Qatar but it will get much less publicity presumably since it only concerns the women. Why couldn’t we bid for it?

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