Women's World Cup to be played on turf, FIFA insists

Tue Sep 30, 2014 4:33pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Next year's women's World Cup in Canada will be played on artificial turf despite threats of legal action from several top international players, an unmoved FIFA executive said after touring one of the host venues on Tuesday.

With players threatening a lawsuit if forced to play on artificial pitches, resolute FIFA officials were unfazed as they began site inspections of the six Canadian venues that will host the June 6-July 5 competition.

"No plans to change that decision," a stone-faced Tatjana Haenni, FIFA’s deputy director of the competitions and head of women's competitions, told reporters after inspecting the Ottawa stadium. "I can't answer if that is fair but that is the way it is going to be.

"It is according to the competition regulations, it is according to laws of the game so all matches will be on artificial turf."

While FIFA remains adamant the tournament will proceed as planned a group of players is equally determined that the event will be staged on grass, claiming FIFA is discriminating against women by having the tournament on artificial turf.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup for men in Brazil was played on grass and there are no plans to shift future men's tournaments to artificial turf. Some professional football leagues and some FIFA World Cup age-group matches are played on artificial turf.

The FIFA delegation toured a 24,000-seat stadium that is home to the Canadian Football League's Ottawa Redblacks, walking out onto the field to get a close look at the playing surface while the team practiced.

Even with plenty of construction going on around the stadium Haenni was full of praise for the venue but refused to comment on the turf.   Continued...

Steffi Jones (L), head of the organization committee of the Women's World Cup holds up a slip of paper carrying the name "Colombia", as she stands next to Tatjana Haenni, FIFA head of women's football competitions, during the draw in Frankfurt for the 2011 Women's World Cup, November 29, 2010. REUTERS/Alex Domanski