Women will not boycott World Cup over artificial turf

Thu Oct 2, 2014 12:46pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - There are no plans to boycott next year's Women's World Cup but players will proceed with a gender discrimination lawsuit against FIFA if forced to play on artificial turf, one of the complainants said on Thursday.

Reigning FIFA player of the year Nadine Angerer, who is among over 40 international women players suing the sport's governing body and Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), said there has not been any talk of boycotting the month-long event.

"Our focus right now is on the lawsuit, none of us talked about anything beyond that," Angerer, who helped Germany to two World Cups, told reporters during a conference call.

"FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association should give us the best opportunity to play our game. But we have never ever talked about a boycott of the World Cup."

While qualifying for the June 6-July 5 tournament in Canada continues, most of the heated action has been taking place off the pitch.

The players filed a lawsuit with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal on Wednesday, claiming the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and CSA are discriminating against women by staging the event on artificial grass they say poses safety risks and alters how the game is played.

The World Cup finals for men and women, contested every four years, have always been played on natural grass.

"We feel this is a clear-cut case of discrimination," said David Wright, one of the Canadian attorneys for the players' coalition that includes some of the game's biggest names. "FIFA and the CSA are treating the women differently than they treat men. It the simple bottom line.   Continued...

FIFA Women's World Player of the Year 2013 nominee Nadine Angerer of Germany smiles during a news conference ahead of the FIFA Ballon d'Or soccer awards ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann