Women’s Pro Soccer At The World Cup: Controversy Over Turf vs Grass
The United States National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA) had a simple and rather quiet announcement. It is always the quiet words that carry the most significance and today’s announcement will echo far and wide.
The following statement on behalf of its members in response to the ongoing issue with using artificial turf for the 2015 Women’s World Cup:
The message is simple and unequivocal: the World Cup should not be played on artificial turf and the organizers and the players should work together to schedule the games on grass for the benefit of the sport, the players, and the fans who will be attending and watching this and future Women’s World Cups.
“USNSTPA and its members fully support the Women’s National Team players from around the world in their efforts to play on natural grass at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. We know firsthand the importance of playing the World Cup on natural grass and the ways playing on artificial turf changes the game’s fundamentals,” is the opening sentence in the announcement issued by Mark Levinstein, Acting Executive Director/General Counsel and J Hutcherson, General Manager.
“We have all played on artificial turf and we know there are circumstances where it is appropriate or conditions require its use, but the World Cup is not one of those circumstances. To play the Women’s World Cup on artificial turf would be a serious mistake,” said the statement.
The statement continued with, “We support the right of the women players to stand up for what they believe. No player should ever be threatened with exclusion from their national team, damage to their career, or adverse consequences to their national team or the sport in their country (such as exclusion from the World Cup or damaging their country’s chances of hosting a World Cup) for exercising their legal rights, especially when they are trying to protect the sport, the fans, and their fellow players.”
The ramifications of this statement will be felt across the turf industry. Controversial as it is, soccer was conceived on grass and not man-made turf. Many soccer lovers and professional players have spoken strongly on the preference for grass. Abby Wambach and several of her U.S. Women’s National Team members have expressed strong feelings on their preference to play on grass. The turf vs. grass debate encompassing the 2015 Women’s World Cup will surely continue as the dates draw closer.
Image: Abby Wambach slides as she celebrates her goal for the U.S. at the last Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2012. Wambach does not want the Women’s World Cup being played on artificial turf in Canada. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)