13 Senators Transgress the Separation of Soccer and State

13 Senators Transgress the Separation of Soccer and State

The patriarchy, not content with its suzerainty over wombs through the sexist demand that women buy their own birth control, has invaded the soccer pitch to ensure that men and women compete on unlevel playing fields.

Thirteen members of the United States Senate–Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ)–have breached the wall of separation between soccer and state through a letter to FIFA protesting the decision to stage the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf in Canada.

“Artificial turf both increases the risk of serious injury and fundamentally changes the way the game is played,” the senators point out. “FIFA has never used turf fields for the men’s World Cup. And it appears that it has no plans to do so having committed to using natural grass for the 2018 men’s tournament in Russia and 2022 men’s tournament in Qatar, host countries with climates at least as challenging as Canada’s.” 

If not an offense against equality, then the synthetic surfaces surely play as an affront to aesthetics. Who wants to see sickly green, too-predictable bounces, or ugly rug burns on Alex Morgan’s beautiful legs? So determined to see the women compete on plastic, the chauvinist pigs at FIFA bypassed suitable grass fields across Canada and ordered million-dollar transformations of natural surfaces to artificial ones. Why not save the money and just use a soccer-ball-sized superball if FIFA likes the bounce so much?

The salons’ missive echoes the concerns of Abby Wambach, Heather O’Reilly, and other women’s soccer stars who issued a complaint against the Canadian Soccer Association with the Ottawa Human Rights Commission on the grass/turf double standard. The men’s and women’s World Cups “take place on literally unequal playing fields,” which, the players contend, proves “inherently degrading.” The gender discrimination complaint dubs FIFA’s artificial-turf decision a human-rights abuse that harms women “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.”

They are women, hear them roar–in numbers too big to ignore.