Wambach: World Cup no place for artificial turf

Jeff Kassouf March 22, 2013 72

Abby Wambach says that artificial turf does not belong at an event as important as the World Cup. As of now, five of the six venues for the 2015 World Cup are artificial turf surfaces. (Photo copyright Andrew Berkley for EqualizerSoccer.com)

If the playing surfaces of five of the six Canadian venues for the 2015 Women’s World Cup remain as artificial turf, it won’t happen without a fight for natural grass playing surfaces.

Thursday’s announcement that BC Place in Vancouver would host the 2015 final – on artificial turf – was met with uproar from some of the world’s best players, including United States forward Abby Wambach, the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.

“I think that a World Cup deserves to be played on natural grass,” she said. “Not only do the players deserve it, but the fans deserve it. It’s a different game on artificial surface.”

Wambach said Friday that “the process has already started” to organize voices from federations across the globe in an attempt to have the artificial surfaces at the Canadian facilities replaced with natural grass for the 2015 World Cup. She said that a conversation – not a threat – needs to be had with FIFA executives.

Players are more injury-prone on artificial turf, Wambach said, and it is harder to gain consistency switching from grass to turf.

“There’s enough time from now until then to sort this out, to talk with FIFA, to get the right people in charge so that this doesn’t happen,” Wambach said. “We’ve worked so hard as female athletes – not only here in the United States, but internationally – to grow the game and in my opinion I think this is taking a step back. All of the men’s international players around the world would argue the same point. A lot of these guys will not play on an artificial surface because it is an injury-prone surface and I don’t blame them.”

Moncton Stadium in Moncton, New Brunswick, is the only venue which currently has natural grass of the six that will be used in 2015; it will be replaced with artificial turf. Wambach said that FIFA distributed surveys regarding artificial turf to players at the Algarve Cup earlier this month, which is when it became clear that the 2015 tournament would be played predominantly on turf.

[MORE – The View from the North: The 2015 Women’s World Cup…on plastic]

Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal are the other host cities. CONCACAF held its 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament at BC Place in Vancouver, where the US beat Canada 4-0 in the final to qualify for the Olympics, ultimately earning gold medals in August. The Americans suffered a notable injury in Vancouver, too – to Ali Krieger on Jan. 20, 2012, which ended her Olympic roster hopes – albeit due to an awful tackle from a Dominican Republic player.

And the grind of artificial turf, says Wambach, 32, does not just affect the bodies of older players.

“This is also for younger players trying to preserve their bodies so that they can last,” Wambach said. “This is also for an Alex Morgan who will take over the reins of scoring for this team – for Team USA – for the next 10 years. You want to make sure that she can play for 10 years. I’m not saying that we need to get rid of artificial turf. That argument has long passed. But what I am saying, and what I think I am valid in saying, is that artificial surface has a time and a place and surely the World Cup is not the time and the place for it.”

Six of the eight National Women’s Soccer League teams – including Wambach’s Western New York Flash – will begin the league’s inaugural season playing on turf at their home venues, but Wambach notes that those clubs have considerably less money and fewer resources than FIFA.

“At the end of the day it comes down to money,” Wambach said. “If FIFA really wanted to have games on grass, they would; it would just cost more. They would lay the sod down for the tournament, get it to stick and if the stadiums had artificial surface prior, then you replace it with artificial surface after the tournament is done.”

The next Women’s World Cup begins on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and ends on Sunday, July 5, 2015 with the final at BC Place in Vancouver.

  • Diane (DeeG)

    I’m glad to hear that organizing support from federations has begun. My federation is going to hear from me, for sure.

  • Anton

    I get the whole uproar, but usually the grass they put over the turf is worse than the turf itself. I don’t like soccer played on turf either, but there’s really no other options in Canada, unless they play every game in Moncton and BMO Field in Toronto. The ‘grass’ put over the turf makes the surface even more dangerous, that’s why I’m not so thrilled of the MNT having a WCQ in Seattle.

    This isn’t on FIFA either (as much as I hate to admit), it’s not their fault that nobody bid up against Canada for the tournament.

    • Steglitz49

      The obvious bidders would have been Japan or Japan and South Korea together as for the men’s cup in 2002, but the JFA treat their ladies most niggardly.

      If there is a will there is a way. One cannot help the conclusion that Canada seems hell bent on destroying ladies’ soccer. One wonders why? Scared that the NHL will be wiped out?

      • ddd

        “One cannot help the conclusion that Canada seems hell bent on destroying ladies’ soccer” — That’s insane. Literally insane.

        • Being passive / silent isn’t the best move on their part though. You gotta admit the longer Canada collectively acts like this is no biggie the weaker they appear as an organization. At least put up a fight right now while something could be done about it.

          The only way things got better for the US women over the years is when they put their foot down against FIFA or domestically and demanded better. Canada needs to do that internally and quickly otherwise they won’t just look bad on the surface. (ahem, pun)

          • Take it from Akers: Go after it. Everyone, including Canada’s players and fans need to step up about this.

            Abby Wambach ‏@AbbyWambach
            I think we need to start petitioning FIFA to not let games be played on Field turf for the World Cup. Who’s with me? #2015WWCnaturalgrass

            Michelle Akers ‏@MichelleAkers
            @AbbyWambach Do it!!! That’s how we got women’s soccer into the Olympics. We petitioned the hell out of USOC. Let me know how I can help.

  • Steglitz49

    A campaign may well have an impact but it will have more zap with male players supporting it.

    ‘“Vero” is backed by Iniesta & Casillas’, was the headline. FIFA has a popular video game with a massive error: it contains no female players. – “Unfair”, thought Tyresö’s Spanish international Verónica Boquete and started a campaign online. The response was not long in coming.

    In just two weeks, “Vero” received 34 000 names. Two of them stood out a little extra, namely her countrymen Andres Iniesta and Iker Casillas, players of Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively. Thereby they showed their support for ladies’ football.

    Maybe male players will see this Canadian caper as the not very thin edge of a very broad wedge. Mobilize the male stars!

    • Anton

      Even if Dempsey, Bradley, Howard and Donovan support the WNT in this, it’s not going to do much. We’re far too late in the process to do anything massive besides from planting sod (which would be impossible to do in Vancouver due to the Whitecaps), which as I said before is just as bad as turf usually, especially with indoor stadiums, which MTL, VAN and WIN are. Nobody can really force the CSA to change their venues, it’s their choice, they need to make the event profitable for them remember. I understand and agree with Wambach and the other players concerns, but I have a hard time seeing them getting their way on this one.

      let me ask this: BC Place can hold 55k, would you rather have the WWC final played on turf in front of 50k+ or on grass at Saputo Stadium in front of 20k?

      • Steglitz49

        I wrote the male stars. Try Messi, Balotelli, Lahm and Beckham.

        At the end of the day it is hard financial facts of life. Women’s soccer is a subsidized activity and at some point the subsidy runs out. Canada is a wealthy first world country so there is no financial reason why Canadians can’t hack it should they want to.

        • Anton

          It still wouldn’t do anything. Beckham played on a ton of turf fields in MLS, spoke against it and nothing happened. Thierry Henry has done the same and look, there are still 5-6 fields in MLS with turf.

          Look, I’m no fan of Canadian soccer either, but the massive hate-on you have for them is pretty ridiculous. Over turf fields no less….

          • Steglitz49

            Teams all over northern Europe play on artificial turf instead of grass. Those are domestic club matches.

            In the case of Euro-13 a couple of stadiums with artificial surface are not being used and instead smaller stadia in smaller towns are being used because they have grass. What is sauce for Euro-13 ought to be sauce for WC-15.

          • Kiana

            I don’t hear any hate. And comparing MLS matches to a FIFA World Cup is a bit ridiculous. I somehow doubt you’d have this same argument if FIFA tried to pull this for a men’s World Cup. Nobody said Vancouver or any of the other venues needs permanent sod laid down. Temporary sod will have to do. Just don’t lay it down 2 days ahead of time. Give it a chance to breathe (at least a week or two). This BS would NEVER work on the male football players of the world and everybody knows it. Even the hybrid that was used in South Africa would be better then straight up turf. After all, that is used at some EPL teams facilities and some American NFL facilities, so it can take the wear and tear.

      • Wambach is funny. She complains about the field turf, and turns around and defends the stadium where the Flash play.

        Of course the reason for fake grass in Rochester probably has more to do with the disaster of removing a freaking pitchers mound from the pitch and putting it back in place when the Rhinos play at Frontier Field.

        It doesn’t hurt that stadium actually hosts tons of activity that beats up on the field. 2 soccer teams, high school football, lacrosse some national drum line competition, concerts and who knows what else. The massive high temperatures turning into massive lows probably don’t help either – There have been times where 100 degree days turn into nearly freezing in only 48 hours, and back into the 80s in another 24 hours for crying out loud.

        Maybe Wambach should have started this petition a little earlier – Like before Canada won the bid.

        • Don B.

          The Flash play at Sahlen’s Stadium.

          • Right. And the Rhinos (who built Paetec Park) almost certainly made their field choice based on their experience as second class citizens at Frontier Field for the first 10 years (actually “only” 9 at Frontier but whatever) of their existence.

            Again – Sahlen Stadium deals with a lot of use and temperatures that wreck havoc some years even on the most cared for lawns. Real grass there would be a pipe dream.

          • Steglitz49

            We are not playing the world cup there, are we?

          • Would have played one there if our mayor Bill Johnson didn’t delay the construction of our stadium. Of course he couldn’t have expected China to lose the World Cup, but he should have been able to see how much use the stadium would get.

            And if the US wins another World Cup bid I would be very surprised if Rochester didn’t host a few non final matches.

            Sahlen Stadium is a bare bones stadium, but even with the 2 largest US women’s club attendances I still don’t think anyone has seen what that stadium is capable of… Even with it’s FieldTurf…

          • Steglitz49

            Your point is well taken. Club matches in the Nordic countries are played on artificial surfaces because of the inclement weather and Norway in particular but also Sweden have done well internationally up to now.

            Nevertheless, there is a point of honor here. Top championships ought to be played on grass and Canada is not a poor country, far from it. It is one of the richest countries in the world.

            Let’s trust that some creative solutions to defraying grass can be developed.

            For the USA to get the world cup again any time soon they should push for 32 countries in the tournament because USA is one of the few if not the only country with the infrastructure and go in it to get it done properly. Offering to play it on grass would make it extra attractive.

  • A petition has been started on change.org as well: http://www.change.org/petitions/fifa-2015-women-s-world-cup-remove-artificial-turf-from-venues#intro which Carli Lloyd has signed an re-tweeted.

  • planopitch

    I am not Abby’s biggest fan but I am with her on this one. I am also very disappointed that the NWSL Kansas City team will play on plastic. Lots of colleges have grass pitches and it’s not because soccer is a revenue sport. It’s because players and fans prefer it.

    • vert2013

      The Thorns will too.

      • Noodle

        As will Lloyd and Wambach’s team – WNY Flash. You would think if they were so concerned they would boycott the NWSL too.

        • Greg_G

          She explained in the article that FIFA has the money to ensure the Cup is played on natural grass, the NWSL doesn’t have the money to ensure all facilities are natural grass facilities.

          • Steglitz49

            There has to be a limit to how much FIFA can justify subsidizing the ladies’ game in wealthy countries. The men’s world cup was played in South-Africa on grass. Canada is one of the richest countries in the world.

            FIFA may prefer to put money towards supporting young ladies in poor countries who want to play soccer. Maybe we will see teams from unexpected places in 2015 just like Japan came from the blind side.

          • Anton

            This isn’t on FIFA though….

          • Steglitz49

            GregG wrote: “She explained in the article that FIFA has the money to ensure the Cup is played on natural grass”. — I simply pointed out that FIFA may prefer to use the money they set aside for ladies’ soccer to defray some projects in the poor parts of the world, not pour into the coffers of a wealthy First world country.

            You are correct. This is Canada’s pigeon, not FIFA’s.

          • Don B.

            If you go to the Field Turf website, you’ll find that FIFA actually endorses it.

          • Steglitz49

            Of course you are right. Indeed, “FieldTurf”, is one of nine FIFA preferred producers. If you have these artificial pithes you have to pay FIFA to get them tested and quality assured and they are rated.

            Nevertheless, it is a fact that the top men’s leagues continue on grass and the top men’s competitions are played on grass and the ladies’ Euro-13 is played on grass.

            While UEFA seems to take a purist soccer view, FIFA takes a business view, not least about growing the game world wide including in countries with extreme climates. On the whole FIFA seems more active in and supportive of women’s soccer than UEFA but that could simply be the impact of pressure from the USA.

            Seeing that it will be a long time before the ladies’ WC can be expected to be played in WASP-country again, FIFA is most likely already thinking of WWC in Asia, Europe, Africa, south/central-America etc, but, who know, if USA offers a good financial package they ought to get the WWC sooner and a juicy carrot would be playing on grass.

            In the end it is all about money and love of the game. Women’s soccer has no money.

          • vert2013

            That would assume that FIFA cared about women’s soccer….

          • Steglitz49

            They seem to care more than UEFA but Canada are querying their pitch. Maybe letting Canada host the WC was a mistake. Time will tell. It may have been better not to have had a WC-15. It would have concentrated minds for sure. Where are we going? Is any price worth paying?

          • vert2013

            Not have a WC? That wouldn’t have happened. Remember in 2003 when they gave it to China and had to move it last minute because of SARS? Someone would have stepped up if need be. Turf pitch is better than no world cup.

            We’re also talking about FIFA…they gave the 2022 WC to Qutar…

    • I asked Chicago about that last year and they said the colleges are very protective of their grass and won’t open it up to their use. My old college has a lovely grass field I thought would be great for them, but it is well kept because they are anal about it. So don’t assume they are just turning their nose up at all these better fields. The better fields are not always made available.

      For the World Cup it should be highest standards and the money should be there for that. If I remember right people were getting injured right at left at Qualifying in Canada. All the way from major injuries to really gross burns (google it if you haven’t gotten one before) which is nasty enough on its own. It’s a fact that women have more risk with their knees to begin with. They will be going all out at the World Cup. It is a no brainer to make sure they are on the safest surface. There are some things you put up with on lower levels, but the World Cup should be the highest standards. No question.

      • Steglitz49

        As DonB points out, FIFA actually has endorsed artificial turf and has a testing program so FIFA can hardly object provided that the pitches meet FIFA’s standards. FIFA may not like it and may wish it was otherwise.

        The beautiful grass pitches like Arsenal’s and Barcelona’s are only played on once a week and not much during the summer break, when they recover. The English clubs have competitions for the groundsmen. Wimbledon’s tennis tournament is still played on grass. Horse-racing, both flat and steeplechase, is on grass. Where there is money, there is grass.

        Women’s soccer has no money.

        Canada was the only country offering to stage the WC-15. The other bidder withdrew. If some wealthy sponsor paid for the fields to be grass in 2015, no doubt the organizers would not object.

    • I’m surprised that field is artificial. I thought most surfaces in KC were grass. 🙁 I don’t know what other venues were on their shortlist, but hopefully next year they will get a new venue with grass.

  • Allie

    Wambach and Lloyd have been extremely vocal on Twitter, to the point of being rude and insulting to the host country. I can see it already – if they lose in 2015, it will be because of the turf. If they win, it was because they “overcame” the difficulties of playing on the turf. Come on.

    • All u need to know about the situation in Canada is the Canadian Men’s National team refuses to play their games at turf stadiums in Canada. If the Canadian Fed doesnt accept it for their men’s team, why would u assemble the best women’s teams on the planet and expect them to play on it?

    • Greg_G

      They’re not saying anything most Canadian women’s players will also say. The WWC is being treated like a second-class citizen in the world of football. The choice to use turf was not made for competitive reasons, but for financial reasons. Ridiculous considering this is the showcase event for the sport. You’ll hear plenty of Canadians complain about this very thing.

      • Steglitz49

        Canada is a wealthy country. The Canadian FA may not have enough dough to defray natural grass but the nation has.

        All we need now is a final between Germany and Japan, or Denmark against South-Korea, to cross the ice and dot the tease.

      • Allie

        I follow every CanWNT player on Twitter and publicly, they haven’t said a thing. Probably because they don’t want to go against the CSA. Obviously, I understand that they would have concerns about playing on turf as well. But, so far, none of them have mentioned it publicly – perhaps they are taking it up with their representatives.

        • Greg_G

          Exactly, they aren’t in a position to be as vocal as players from other nations. If they criticize the CSA too vigorously they may face repercussions (as their former coach did). But don’t mistake this initial silence as agreement with the decision to go with turf. Canadian players are no different from anyone else, they prefer to play on natural grass because it provides for a more natural game and it is more forgiving on the players’ bodies. I’m sure they actually appreciate American players saying publicly what they wish they could come out and say themselves right now. I’m sure they’ll be in touch with the CSA and any other relevant party about the decision.

    • necron99

      I didn’t see anything rude or insulting to Canada in either of their twitter feeds. I am a follower of both. I also follow the whole of the CanWNT. I haven’t seen anything at all from them.

      • Allie

        OK, fine, I’ll give you Wambach – she’s mostly just mentioning that petition and pulling the “FIFA wouldn’t make the men play on turf” card.

        @carlilloyd Always more injuries on artificial turf. Bad enough we played our 2012 Olympic qualifying games on artificial turf. Never thought about WC.

        @carlilloyd Had a nightmare that the 2015 World Cup was going to be played on turf!

        RT @carlilloyd EVERY GAME?!? Where is the SENSE in that?!?! It’s a WORLD CUP….not an indoor practice session. #waytogocanada (Not her writing, but she retweeted it which obviously implies that she agrees)

        As a Canadian, I don’t appreciate the digs at the 2012 CONCACAF tournament. Personally, I find it ironic that Lloyd and Wambach have been the most vocal about the turf when their club team, the WNY Flash, will be playing on artificial turf. If they’re so strongly against it, then why aren’t they petitioning the NSWL/US Soccer?
        I’m not trying to start a fan war here. I’m just saying that there are better ways for the players to go about voicing their opinions than venting on Twitter. I feel that Wambach’s statements in this article supported her argument far more than some tweets could.

        • Wambach isn’t saying anything about Sahlen Stadium because she knows better than to stick her foot down the throat of Joe Sahlen (who is the most willing owner to throw money at women’s soccer) and Rochester (where she was born) at the same exact time.

          This community has done far to much for women’s soccer even before Wambach left high school.

        • necron99

          And once again as 20 other people have pointed out, playing club matches vs playing the World Cup. There is a big difference. FIFA still will not play a mens World Cup on Field Turf. For almost any change they make they announce it and test it first in the U20s or lower. For example Goal Line technology. So if they were deciding to change to allow FT for full World Cups, men’s included then they should have announced it as a FIFA wide institutional change. In fact, they have not done so as we can all see. They just quietly let it come out far after the WWC 2015 host was awarded. Clearly the players didn’t expect it. I can’t speak for you as a Canadian, but your Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team refuses to play on FT. What’s good enough for the goose?

  • stephen

    I don’t see why you couldn’t remove the artificial turf, put in a grass surface for a few weeks and then put in a new artificial surface. Artificial turf needs to be replaced every few years anyway. That’s different from putting grass over artificial turf. Then remember that two stadiums are under construction. I wonder if they could open with grass and then replace it after the WWC.

    • Allie

      Investors Group Field in Winnipeg is supposed to open with turf this summer. Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa isn’t supposed to open until 2014, when the NASL and CFL teams will be moving and playing on, you guessed it, FieldTurf. I don’t necessarily think it would be ideal to build brand new stadia, and then either 1 or 2 years later, rip it up, replace it with grass, then put down more turf. Then again, maybe there is some CSA money that could be spent.

    • Anton

      It would be impossible to do in Vancouver. The Whitecaps are kind of playing there.

  • Derek

    Why do some of the outdoor stadiums have artificial turf? I know they host football teams but still, even NFL players like grass stadiums better. FIFA makes a ton of money, they can’t chip in to put in grass for a month? At least in the big 3 stadiums (Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton)

    • It’s a cost/benefit discussion. Artificial turf holds up better than grass, especially in rainy/snowy conditions. The field can be played on almost constantly and doesn’t require an army of groundskeepers.

      Lots of stadiums have gotten rid of it, but there’s still plenty in the US & Canada.

    • Steglitz49

      FIFA might have stepped in if the WC was being hosted by an economically weak country but Canada is one of the 15 wealthiest countries in the world, possibly even in the top 10.

      FIFA makes its money out of the men’s game, not the ladies’ game. As is well known, many men consider any money spent on ladies’ football wasted money, as witness that Man Utd closed its women’s section 8 years ago and Chelsea almost did had it not been for John Terry, while Real Madrid never had one.

      Creative ways of defraying real grass would seem the best way forward.

  • waltsa


    My federation will hear from me on this issue in support of natural grass as will the FA, the FFA, and the CSA and maybe the Welsh, Scots, and Irish too. If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll write to the Germans as well (yes, auf Deutsch) because this is the biggest stage for the best female footballers in the world and they should be treated as such.

    What if everyone, including fans and federations helped pay for grass?

    Experience with turf/Injury data/Suggestions for how to pay for grass:
    Yes, Fifa endorses FieldTurf (the brand). Yes many (most?) NWSL teams have a stadium with turf. At the moment, we’re just glad we have an NWSL to speak of. We’ll table the turf debate there for another year or two. No, I don’t like turf. I’ve played on it as a GK and midfield/forward, I have reffed on it, and I have coached on it. I’ve found if it’s more than a year old, that is, the rubber bits have settled, possibly under snow, it’s downright painful to merely stand on for an entire practice let alone dive on as a GK or run on as a forward/ref. (Insert ref joke here.) Maybe I’m a wimp. That’s ok. These national team players aren’t wimps and yet they are balking at the idea of playing on turf. They didn’t like it for Olympic Qualifiers, but I’m sure they never dreamed a World Cup would be played on it.

    The data regarding injury rates on turf vs grass is somewhat inconsistent. Most studies acknowledge the need for further study. Many articles can be found on NCBI’s website by searching “turf and knees”. Please know the data and understand the statistics before making statements to federations about injury rates and risk. Please also know precedents for matches on turf.

    Since science doesn’t currently make the decision for us, we’re down to opinion. This tournament is about the best players and teams in the world competing for the most prestigious trophy in their sport. We should do everything possible to honor their wishes and right now, that appears to be grass. So maybe you’re right and Fifa is “tired of subsidizing” women’s football. What if all the participating federations chipped in too? What if they added a ‘grass-fee’ to the tickets? Just a dollar or two per ticket. ~55k seats in BC Place, ~55k -110k dollars for grass. I have no idea how much it would cost to put in grass, I’m just throwing out ideas. I plan to go to this tournament and I don’t live anywhere near any of the host cities which means I’ll be shelling out for transit as well as match tickets. I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for my match tickets if it meant I got to watch Wambach, Sinclair, Marozsán, DeVanna, White, Necib, Marta, Schelin, etc play on natural grass.

    • Steglitz49

      Your points are well taken. Your idea of finding a creative way of paying for the extra cost of natural grass is most constructive.

      Could one sell pieces of grass to fans after the tournament? Grandparents could relay their lawn for the grandkids to play on.

      Could a whole pitch be bought by a professional team and installed on their ground? If the supporters of each NWSL team clubbed together, they could buy the grass of 8 fields and install for themselves to play on?

      Could one persuade the really wealthy soccer teams to pay for grass and in return the stadium would be named “Arsenal stadium”, “Barcelona stadium” or “Bayern Munich stadium” for the tournament?

      Could wealthy soccer players step up to the plate? How about “Zlatan field”?

      • Michelle

        This is VERY good info…..terrific ideas! Please float this to anyone that could make it happen! I’m definitely on board with this 🙂

        • waltsa

          We should all write to fifa and our federations and give them any ideas we can think of to make the grass happen. When I say ‘write’ I mean a physical letter, preferably hand-written, but it must be legible. Nothing says support like people taking the time to write a physical letter. Signing a petition is great, I have signed and will sign as many as people can make about this, sending an email is helpful, but there’s something about a physical piece of mail that really shows how much people care.

      • waltsa

        I love these ideas! Time to start writing letters! (real, physical letters) Send them to Fifa and your federation. Maybe even write to Arsenal or other clubs as you mentioned and see if they would be on board with something like that.

  • Anton

    To the few that are wondering why these fields even have turf is usually because of the weather. Look at Portland and Seattle for instance, it would be impossible to have a respectable grass pitch up there will the amounts of rain they get.

    Now lets look at the 2015 WWC venues:
    Vancouver: indoors, so obvious turf (holds 55k)
    Montreal: indoors, so again, obvious turf (holds 66k)
    Winnipeg: indoors (holds up to 40k)
    Edmonton: outdoors, but with the rough winters, tough to have grass (holds 60k)
    Moncton: outdoors, only one with a grass pitch (holds up to 20k)
    Ottawa: outdoors (holds up to 45k)

    The only legitimate fields that could have grass are Ottawa and Edmonton, but as I said in another post, the CSA needs to make this a profitable event. So having games in Edmonton/Ottawa in front of 45-60k instead of 20-25k in Saputo and BMO makes logical sense from that standpoint. Any federation would do the same.

    • Steglitz49

      As far as I know, this will be the first major soccer competition not played on grass. Whether it will be the last is a different question.

      Maybe, once all the injuries have been totaled up, the conclusion might be that it was not such a bright idea. Who insures the players and pays for any reconstructive surgery?

      This week we have had a fine example of competitor power. The cross-country skiing world cup final took place in Falun in Sweden for the 4th year running. The track has been redesigned since last year. It was criticized earlier in the season for being too dangerous but competitors skied it and some were injured. This time they did not. The organizers had to change the courses. By the time the world championships are there in 2015, we will see a less hazardous course.

      Which federation will step up to the plate and say that unless it is grass, we ain¨t sending our ladies over there?

      • NeilWH

        Please point us to studies that show there is a higher increase of injuries on FT than grass?

        Besides the FIFA and FIFPro studies, there have been several studies done in Norway and Sweden that show there is now increase in injuries on FT than grass.


        • Steglitz49

          Why not play with plastic balls? They are cheaper than leather balls.

          In international matches, FIFA is responsible for the insurance of the players – but only for the men. This January the Swedish ladies football league association on behalf of several other countries and clubs raised the issue with FIFA, who replied that they would look into the matter and see if the arrangement could be expanded to include female players as well.

          I have not heard any more about the insurance status. Unless FIFA insures the ladies for WC-15, the cost of injuries will have to be born by the local associations or their insurers.

          Were I an insurance actuary I would raise the premiums for tournaments not played on natural grass and I would raise it particularly if the matches switched between natural grass and artificial surfaces, also if several different artificial surfaces were involed.

          This could be a more expensive tournament than Euro-13 for the countries involved before a single ball has been kicked.

          The mot interesting findings of the studies of weight-bearing pivoting knee injuries to ladies in sport is the finding, published in the British Medical Journal less than a year ago, that a 15 min simple exercise program can substantially reduce the risk of such injuries. (Over a season the researchers compared 2479 girls aged 12-17 who did the exercise twice a week with 2085 who were not required to do them.)

          It is imperative that all the FAs around the world ensure that coaches drill their charges in these simple exercises. Also more research is needed to see if other exercises may help.

          The issue about the frequency of injuries is not simple. The NCAA and various group around the world have done studies. The rate of knee-injuries among ladies in Sweden seems considerably lower than in the north-American and other studies, though why this should be so is not clear.

          What we can be certain of is that the WC will be played competitvely, at ferocious speed and with solid tackles, so the risk of injuries will be higher than in club matches between amateur teams.

          Finally, grass is the ideal surface for football and artificial surfaces are substitutes. There is no reason why a world cup should be played on a substitute. We do not play with plastic balls! Maybe Canada can introduce those also while they are at it?

          • newsouth

            Could you show injury rates in NFL because can’t compare soccer in shorts on turf vs football in 40 lbs of equipment with 250-300lb men shooting at your knees? and the nfl generates REAL revenes vs women’s soccer.

          • Steglitz49

            The wealthiest sports clubs such as Man Utd, Real Madrid, Barcelona etc play on grass. That does not mean that men’s soccer is not played on artificial surfaces but top men’s teams and tournaments are on grass.

            Women soccer all over the world is an artificial activity in that it is subsidized. The source of the subsidy varies but it does not pay for itself. Oddly enough, a lot of men’s team in other sports are also subsidized and the amounts are quite staggering, in some cases 50-100-fold what the ladies soccer clubs owe.

            I was not aware that the NFL plays matches in Canada. The NFL’s first match (an exhibition game) in Europe was played in 1988 on grass in Göteborg.

  • NeilWH

    What would be better of Abby and the US Players is to support the other players to get better contracts and CBA with their Federations. Players need to be making livable wages and to have their national sporting bodies respect their commitments and sacrifices to their sport.

    Personally, I struggle with Abby who is making at least $70K US on her NT salary alone plus the other benefits their CBA brings when other federations players are living at home with mom and dad. Heck even the CANWNT players are only making $18K annually plus a bit of cash here and there from the COC. Heck, neither Mexican or Canadian NT players going into the NWSL have a CBA’s with their national governing bodies.

    If players want to support one other globally, support the cause for breaking the abuse they face off the field by being treated as 2nd class athletes. Sure a grass field is a part of that but the players have to live first as world class athletes.

    I think it would be great to have the games on real grass. Eh, but this is Canada where the stadiums are multi-purpose and community owned. Communities don’t have the money to afford the real grass. Communities need to have FT so the majority of field sports can be played on them by various sports groups and not just football. Without having tons of money for maintenance. having enough extra grass fields so each field only gets used for 2 games a week and extra back up grass using FT is the only option.

    Canadian players who come up in the youth system can’t see FT put in fast enough in their communities. They are way safer than grass fields and are open except when they can’t move the snow. Heck, isn’t the NWSL using FT for the majority of their fields? Didn’t the majority of players in the current CANWNT and USWNT grow up on FT as youth and university players?

    In the end the argument comes down to FIFA willing to spend the money (2012 profit of $89M and reserves of $1B +) and the safety of a 1 temporary grass field. Btw the talk North of the 49th is Moncton the only grass field is going to be FT’ed as well so all fields are FT and the city has a legacy. Hence it addresses the players having to switch.

    Further FIFA has spent tons of money proving that FT is the future. Not only do they push it’s cheaper but it’s just as safe to play on. They’ve done the studies over the decades with the support of FIFPro. –


    Further FIFA is well equip’ed to point out to players that they don’t compare apples to apples as many FT’s they grew up on aren’t the best or FIFA Class 2 FT. Further what studies have players or boot manufacturers done on FT for the type of boots best used on FT. FIFA test subjects evidently all use rounded cleats and no blades for their testing.

    Again, it’s great to see Abby speak out but, as a fan of the women’s game I’d rather the federations get together to put food on the table for the players 1st so they don’t have to be treated like the 2nd class players and citizens they are not.

    Btw Jeff why don’t you see if you can do a grid comparison of what women NT players globally get paid and support themselves on. I think many who post here would be shocked to see the dollars the players are expected to live and play on.

    • Steglitz49

      Though your points are well taken, nevertheless please tell us something that we do not know already.

      FIFA and UEFA etc earn their money through the men’s game, not the ladies’.

      Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. By some indices, in the top 15 and by others, in the top 10. How on earth could FIFA justify paying for real grass in such a wealthy country?

      FIFA are anyway already for artificial surfaces; they can hardly forbid Canada from using them.

      We all know that Japan flew their world champion ladies coach to the Olympics while their U-23 men, who had achieved nothing, flew business class. It was the Kirin Brewery that led the way and paid the Nadeshiko a bonus after winning the world cup in 2011. It was tiny compared to what the USWNT got in the Olympics.

      That most women soccer players in Europe earn nothing is well recognized.

      Nevertheless, this will be the first major soccer tournament not played on grass. That this is in a country that only care about ice-hockey probably partly explains why.

      Those who want the WC to be played on grass need to come up with inventive ideas to defray the cost of grass (at least during the tournament). Please see elsewhere for ideas.

  • Not all field turf is alike, I was recently on the field at my university’s football stadium and I was running around on the turf there that was put down 2 yrs ago, the surface was forgiving and felt extremely similar to grass. Some big advances have been made and so if the turf in the facilities is newer top of the line stuff it shouldn’t make that much of a difference. One of the reasons my school replaced their turf was to improve player safety because the old stuff wasn’t as good and players were getting hurt.

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  • Siera

    i agree world cup is not a place for artificial turf!!!!

  • Ed

    Morgan, Wambach, and a lot of other USWT members will play and train on turf every day with their league teams. The injury concern just doesn’t hold a lot of weight–there’s no conclusive evidence regarding injuries one way or another, some seem to be more common on grass, others on turf. That said, it would be nice to have the games on grass. I just wonder where these grass fields are in those markets. Are college and high school pitches in consideration? That might really seem like a step back.

  • AaronJacobs1981

    I think that Artificial sports surfaces are really good and I am not surprised that they want to use it at the world cup as they are really cost effective and a very good surface to play on.

  • Um, all but one of the stadiums in the NWSL are on turf. Like it or lump it. Women’s sports NEED artificial turf in high schools and colleges. I have yet to hear Serena Williams complain about playing tennis on concrete and that must be hell on her knees.