(Reuters) - A group of top international women players filed a lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association on Wednesday alleging gender discrimination over plans to play the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf.
The lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, claims the sport’s governing body and CSA are discriminating against women by staging the tournament on artificial grass that they feel poses safety risks and alters how the game is played.
“The gifted athletes we represent are determined not to have the sport they love be belittled on their watch,” Hampton Dellinger, the attorney representing the players, said in a statement.
“Getting an equal playing field at the World Cup is a fight female players should not have to wage but one from which they do not shrink. In the end, we trust that fairness and equality will prevail over sexism and stubbornness.”
The World Cup finals for men and women, contested every four years, have always been played on natural grass.
The legal action comes one day after FIFA representatives began site inspections of the six venues that will host the June 6-July 5 competition in six Canadian cities.
Tatjana Haenni, FIFA’s deputy director of the competitions and head of women’s competitions, told reporters after a tour of one of the stadiums that there is no Plan B and tournament will go ahead as planned and will be played on artificial turf.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Frank Pingue