Women players drop legal battle over World Cup turf

Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:21pm EST
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(Reuters) - Players who had begun legal action over the use of artificial surfaces at this year's Women's World Cup have dropped their case, their lawyers said on Wednesday.

A group of elite women's players had sued FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), arguing that artificial turf surfaces for the tournament, which takes place in Canada in from June 6 to July 5, were unsafe and that it was discriminatory for women to play on surfaces.

The men's World Cup is played on natural grass pitches.

FIFA and the CSA had argued that the surfaces had passed their sanctioning standards and that the bidding process for hosting the tournament had made clear that artificial surfaces would be used. They denied the charge of discrimination.

Lawyer Hampton Dellinger accused FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association of delaying tactics and making threats of suspension against the players.

"In the face of such irresponsible actions by FIFA and CSA, the players have elected to end their legal fight," Dellinger said in a statement. "The players are doing what FIFA and CSA have proven incapable of: putting the sport of soccer first."

United States national team striker Abby Wambach, one of those who had led the legal fight, said she hoped the case would bring about change in the future.

"I am hopeful that the players’ willingness to contest the unequal playing fields – and the tremendous public support we received during the effort – marks the start of even greater activism to ensure fair treatment when it comes to women’s sports," said the 2012 FIFA Women's Player of the Year.

(Reporting By Simon Evans. Editing by Steve Keating.)

A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police  carries the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy along with West Ottawa Soccer Club player Talia Laroche who carries the Official Match Ball as part of the preliminary activities surrounding the official draw for the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 at The Canadian Museum of History. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports