Legal representatives of a group of players considering suing Canada Soccer and FIFA over the use of artificial turf at the 2015 Women’s World Cup took the next steps this week, requesting public records.
Public records of Sport Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage and B.C. Pavilion Corporation — which operates BC Place, home to the 2015 World Cup final — were requested as the group continues to build its legal case. The information being requested surrounds discussion of the the playing surfaces for the 2015 World Cup, but also regarding Sport Canada’s involvement in the Canadian bid for the 2026 men’s World Cup.
Lawyers for the coalition of about 40 international players sent a letter to FIFA and Canada Soccer in late July requesting the opportunity to speak with the groups to find a way to avoid using artificial turf at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The legal representatives for the players said in the letter, obtained by The Equalizer last week, that the use of “a second-class surface is gender discrimination that violates European charters and numerous provisions of Canadian law, including human rights codes and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Canada Soccer and FIFA had no comment on the matter last week, but did acknowledge that they received the letters. The players’ legal representatives said they still have not heard from FIFA or Canada Soccer to advance the conversation.
On Wednesday, attorneys Hampton Dellinger and Tristram Mallett issued the following statement:
“Canadian law broadly prohibits discrimination based on gender and likewise provides ample opportunity for access to public records. We are hopeful that Canadian government agencies will quickly comply with the data requests and believe the resulting information will only strengthen the players’ claims of unfair and unlawful treatment based on gender.”
Delllinger, Mallett and their law teams at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP of the United States, and Canadian firm of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, hope to decipher whether or not FIFA is “responsible” for the decision to play the tournament on turf, if natural grass was ever considered, and how B.C. Place obtained a FIFA 2-star rating for its turf.
Lawyers are requesting the information through Canada’s Access to Information Act, giving the requested organizations 30 days to respond.