The 2015 World Cup Final will be the first senior team championship game of either gender to be played on a surface other than grass.
Although that announcement was somewhat buried, the embracing of plastic was the most noteworthy thing to come out of today’s schedule announcement, which was held in Edmonton and Vancouver.
The 2015 organizing committee also announced the location of the semi-finals, finals and third place game, as well as where the three group games involving Canada will take place.
As was widely expected, the final will be held in Vancouver at BC Place. The two semi-finals will be held at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. Edmonton will host the third place game as well as two of Canada’s group games. Montreal will host the final game.
Although it had been expected that Vancouver would play host to the final, it was widely believed that a temporary grass surface would be utilized. However, a CSA spokesperson confirmed that would not be the case.
“Part of the announcement today was to confirm that the final would be played on football turf,” communications director Richard Scott said.
Football turf is a generic term for artificial playing surfaces that resemble what is commonly referred to as FieldTurf, which is a brand name.
Playing on turf is unpopular amongst players, and a bit of a lightning rod for controversy in Canada. On the men’s side of the game, the national team players have refused to play on any surface but grass. That ultimatum has effectively restricted national team games to Toronto’s BMO Field, the only stadium with grass surface that also has a significant amount of seats.
At the 2015 World Cup only Moncton, which is the smallest stadium, will have a grass surface.
National team head coach John Herdman refused to get drawn into controversy about the playing surface.
Rather, he spoke about how Canada needs to take advantage of the unique opportunity of hosting a World Cup.
“You can either see it as a curse or an opportunity,” he said via phone following the announcement. “Players will either flourish or wilt under the pressures of playing at home.
“Being in Canada we need to make sure that we are taking advantage of everything.”
To that end, Herdman encouraged Canadians to focus on the positives.
“I don’t want to talk about disappointment,” Herdman said. “I don’t want to hear about how the games aren’t in certain cities.
“No one is going to miss out on this party – whether you’re at the games or watching on TV. The World Cup is coming to Canada. It’s a remarkable thing.”
“The feeling with the team is that it’s a privilege to play in this. When else will they get the opportunity to play in a World Cup at home? Will (Canada) get another one? When, in 50-years?”
Although left unspoken, it seems unlikely that many Canadians will care what playing surface the game is on if the Canucks make it to the final.
“Hopefully we can get on a roll and get all the way to the final, “ Herdman said. “We need to embrace this opportunity.”