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Women's World Cup Players Tell Canadian Tribunal Artificial Turf a Human Rights Abuse

Women's World Cup Players Tell Canadian Tribunal Artificial Turf a Human Rights Abuse

Betty Friedan sought to liberate women from the kitchen by dubbing the home a “comfortable concentration camp.” Amelia Bloomer conspired to imprison women’s beautiful legs in ugly pants by decrying the “the burden of long, heavy skirts.” Abby Wambach tells soccer players of the world to unite against synthetic grass, you have nothing to lose but your rug burns!

Women’s players from around the soccer-ball-shaped globe have filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission charging FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) with gender discrimination. The prospect of knees scraped down to the bone and superball-like bounces apparently necessitated such extreme measures.

The players call artificial turf “inherently degrading.”

The document asserts that because men played the World Cup exclusively on grass, and FIFA scheduled the women to compete exclusively on artificial turf, this means that the events “take place on literally unequal playing fields.” It’s hard to argue with such logic.

Canada hosts the international event next year at six sites.

The complaint contends that “CSA and FIFA’s decision to hold the tournament on artificial turf is inherently discriminatory and injures an elite group of female athletes in 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 as a result of requiring them to play on a second-class surface before tens of thousands of stadium spectators and a global broadcast audience.”

Dozens of players, including Americans Abby Wambach, Alexandra Morgan, and Heather O’Reilly, have lent their names to the legal action. If only Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, and Pete Rose had taken such a courageous stand against the human rights abuse on the floor of The Vet, baseball might have been rid of such monstrosities at a much earlier date.

The remedies sought by the players include moving the tournament to grass fields and installing at existing host venues new natural surfaces, offering very specific instructions toward that latter end.  

“Temporary grass pitches could be installed on top of the existing artificial surface at Moncton Stadium,” the document says of the playing surface in New Brunswick. “The temporary field should include a sand-based compatible root zone with Kentucky Bluegrass, Supina Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass or Bermuda sod.”

Why not ask for a mineral-enriched silty soil with boundary lines created by the world’s finest chalks?  

Ironically, Moncton Stadium boasted a grass field until a few months ago, when, in an effort to accommodate the tournament, switched to artificial turf. “The surface is one example of FIFA’s mandate to ensure that we’re offering literally a level and equitable playing field for all of the participants,” Stéphane Delisle, the general manager of the site for FIFA, told

Tell that to Abby Wambach.


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