World Cup Archive

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Turfgate: FIFA’s Valcke affirms that a men’s World Cup could be staged on turf

fifa-logoIn an interview/press release posted on FIFA.com, FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said that a men’s World Cup played on artificial turf could be organized sooner rather than later.

More of Valcke’s statement:

“By the way, for many years now, any organizer of a FIFA event — irrespective of whether it be a men’s or women’s competition, including the men’s World Cup – has had the right to propose for the tournament to be played on artificial turf, provided that it is of the highest quality and the same playing surface is used for all venues and training sites. It could well be that sooner rather than later the men’s World Cup will also be played on artificial pitches. The Canadian Soccer Association proposed for the tournament to be played on artificial turf based on the fact that most sporting infrastructure in Canada is on artificial turf, primarily due to the extreme climate in the host country. It would be very difficult to ensure solid natural-grass pitches at all venues. As has already been explained, this is not a question of money, or of differences between men’s and women’s events, but it is a matter of the natural conditions in Canada: We want to guarantee consistent top-level playing conditions for all 24 teams during the event, both in the official stadiums and at the training sites. This has been the sole reason behind the decision to play on artificial turf from day one.”

This statement is an important one. While no doubt many will scoff at the notion of a men’s World Cup being played on turf — and will say that Valcke is simply playing politics — this statement from a top FIFA official carries weight. Why? The legal team representing the women’s players who are taking the CSA to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario claim that their clients are being asked to play their World Cup on turf, when it’s something FIFA would never ask of the men. But FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association can now say, “if it’s good enough for women, it’s good enough for men.”
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Turfgate: Canadian Soccer Association will argue Ontario tribunal has no right to rule on Women’s World Cup venues in other provinces

fwwc2015_oe_4ct_lThe Canadian Soccer Association and its lawyers are prepared to argue that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has no jurisdiction to hear a complaint that the use of turf surfaces at the 2015 Women’s World Cup is an example of gender inequality.

That’s because the HRTO is a provincial body, not a federal one. And, because five of the six venues for the Women’s World Cup are outside of the province of Ontario, the question is why the HRTO would hear the case in the first place. The final will be held at BC Place in Vancouver. More games will be held in Alberta — at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium — than any other host city. So why hear the case in Ontario?

Sean Hern, a lawyer with the Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP firm that’s representing the CSA, says it’s the legal question that his side will press at the tribunal. In a conference call held Wednesday, he said it is “unclear how tribunal would have jurisdiction over playing surfaces and stadiums in another province.”

In the minds of the CSA and its lawyers it’s “likely” that the HRTO does not have jurisdiction over what goes on in other provinces, and Hern says it’s a matter that will be argued.

A group of elite women’s players have applied to the HRTO to hear their pleas for the 2015 WWC to not be held on artificial turf. They claim it’s a second-class surface which causes more injuries than playing on grass. But the CSA claims that turf surfaces designated as FIFA two-star are first-class, and are allowed by the sport’s governing body.
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The elephant in the room: CFL is the forgotten partner in the Women’s World Cup turf-vs.-grass debate

imgresWhen it comes to the looming legal action against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association over the decision to stage next year’s Women’s World Cup on artificial turf surfaces, there are some rather large elephants in the room who are choosing to remain quiet.

And those are the Canadian Football League teams. They stand to have further disruption to their seasons if the owners of the multipurpose stadiums being used for the WWC would have to tear up the turf and lay down grass.

On Friday, a deadline imposed by the lawyers for U.S. star Abby Wambach and her cadre of anti-turf allies went by. All FIFA did to, ahem, mark the occasion was to publicly confirm that an independent company has been hired to ensure that all of the game and practice fields in the Canadian host cities will meet the highest standard for artificial surfaces (CLICK HERE). So, the next step would be for Wambach and co. to follow through on their threats and take the Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA to task through a human-rights tribunal or, maybe, eventually to court.

Now, I’ve read through the legal briefs, and I’ve gone through a lot of the pro and con articles out there. But, one thing no one talks about, whether it’s from Wambach’s group or those who say we can lay down grass and then pull it up (CLICK HERE), is how it affects the other users of the stadiums.

There is definitely an arrogance out there amongst the anti-turf crowd; because the movement has been spurred outside of Canada, they have very little idea about the stadiums being used. They don’t seem to understand that these are shared, multipurpose facilities. In 2014, the Canadian Football League was quite accommodating, having the Edmonton Eskimos clear out of Commonwealth Stadium in order for U-20 Women’s World Cup matches to be played there. Next year, the sacrifices will be greater; the Ottawa RedBlacks, the Eskimos, the BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will all have their seasons affected.
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FIFA to send independent company to “ensure” quality of Canada’s Women’s World Cup turf

fifa-logoFIFA is going to contract an independent inspector to ensure that Canada’s artificial turf fields are indeed good enough to host a Women’s World Cup.

After the Executive Committee wrapped up its meetings in Zurich, FIFA made this announcement: “Regarding the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada, the executive ratified the decision to assign an independent company to travel to Canada in order to test pitches and training fields to ensure they fulfil the FIFA quality requirements.”

The Canadian Soccer Association says it will not make any comments about the timing of FIFA’s announcement, as this was a directive that the Association already knew about. It confirmed that the process of vetting the fields has actually already begun. Surfaces in Edmonton and Moncton are already approved. The goal is to have approval of the match surface and two training fields in each of the host cities.

American star Abby Wambach is leading a group of elite women’s players who have launched legal action against the exclusive use of artificial turf at next year’s Women’s World Cup. They claim the use of turf is a case of gender bias, as no men’s World Cup has ever been staged on artificial turf.

FIFA approves the use of artificial turf for international matches, as long as the surface meets FIFA’s star-rating system.
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U20WWC: Prince’s injury was a harbinger of bad things to come for Canada

Nichelle Prince

Nichelle Prince

At the 15-minute mark, the Canadian team got bad news — and a bad omen. Striker Nichelle Prince had to leave Saturday’s U-20 Women’s World Cup quarter-final due to injury.

And, facing the tournament-favourite Germans in front of more than 22,000 fans at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, the Canadians lost their top central striking option.

Canada would go on to lose 2-0; but the home side did create plenty of chances that result in scuffed shots, tame efforts right at the keeper, or headers over the bar. In terms of possession and territorial play, the Canadians matched the Germans. But, where the Germans took advantage of their opportunities, Canadians scoring chances went begging.

And Prince had to sit on the bench to watch most of the game.
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U20WWC: Our one-on-one interview with Canadian striker Janine Beckie

14441605254_65c9d3b977_kAt this time last year, Janine Beckie was looking forward to the U-20 Women’s World Cup, as a member of the U.S. national program. But, now, she’s a big part of Canada’s U-20 side, and scored the winning goal against North Korea that put her team into Saturday’s quarter-final match against Germany.

The sister of Ottawa Fury defender Drew Beckie, Janine was born in Saskatchewan but moved to Colorado with her family when she was very young. She has scored 26 goals in 45 NCAA matches for Texas Tech. Her brother played for Canada at the qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics — and most of their extended family is still in Saskatchewan.

After Beckie arrived in Edmonton with the U-20 team, we sat down for a one-on-one interview. Canada plays Germany this Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

What went through your mind after you scored against North Korea?
It was obviously great to get the goal, but, in my mind, I was thinking ‘let’s keep the lead’ and ‘let’s go for another one to win this game.’ There were thousands of things running through my mind, but the biggest was let’s hold on and come out of this game with a win.
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With Canada booked for Commonwealth U20WWC quarter-final, the comparisons to 2002 will begin

Kadeisha Buchanan and her Canadian teammates will be jetting off to Edmonton.

Kadeisha Buchanan and her Canadian teammates will be jetting off to Edmonton.

47,784.

It is a number that’s special in Canadian soccer history. And it’s a number that we all knew would, sooner or be later, be used as measuring stick for this year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Now that Canada has booked itself a U20WWC quarter-final date with Germany at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, that number has become relevant. It represents a shining star in Canadian soccer history, and also puts so much pressure on the venue organizers.

It’s a long shot that 47,784 or more spectators will show up at Commonwealth on Saturday for the Canada-Germany quarter-final. But we know it will be the comparison that will be used by so many members of the Edmonton and the national media.

In 2002, when Canada first hosted a FIFA women’s youth tournament — it was then known as the U-19 Women’s World Championship — a city fell in love with a Canadian team that featured teenagers Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang. And, when the final pitted these loveable Canadians against the arch-enemy Americans, it was a perfect storm for ticket sales. The 47,784 supporters who showed up set a standard for international youth soccer — men or women — that hasn’t been matched since.
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Wild night at the U-20 WWC: Canada survives, Germany and China in 10-goal thriller

Player of the match (CHINA) Beiyan Zhu, right

Player of the match (CHINA) Beiyan Zhu, right

It really is something to try and pay attention to two matches at the same time — one in front of you at the stadium, and the other on the screen.

They are both so enthralling, so wonderfully bizarre, that you feel absolutely torn in two.

That was the situation for me on Friday night. And it was a refreshing reminder of why I love this game so damn much. As I watched Germany and China contest one of the most incredible matches in the history of the U-20 Women’s World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium, I had the Canada-Finland feed up on my laptop, seeing if our national side could recover from its opening game loss.

As I got back upstairs from the coaches’ press conference in Edmonton after a stunning 5-5 draw, I was able to get to my laptop just in time to see Nichelle Prince tuck in a goalmouth rebound to give Canada a 3-2 lead over Finland. After some wonderful work down the right wing from sub Janine Beckie, who had scored earlier in the half to begin the Canuck rally from two goals down, the ball fell so wonderfully to Prince.

After an awful beginning to the game, which saw Finnish striker Juliette Kemppi punish a mistakes from Canadian keeper Kailen Sheridan and then pounce on a giveaway from Canadian defender Sura Yekka, the home side was able to rally. And the Canadians held on to that 3-2 score.

The Germans and Chinese had just wrapped their 10-goal marathon in a torrential rainstorm, as news spread that Canada had just scored to make it 2-1. No, wait, 2-2. Two of the subs brought on by coach Andrew Olivieri, Beckie and Valerie Sanderson, had scored within two minutes of each other.
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While Canada loses its opener, Germans send a message to U20WWC field

Theresa Panfil

Theresa Panfil

After seeing the Germans and Americans square off in the Group B opener at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, I can tell Canadian fans this much. Now that Canada has lost its opener (1-0 to Ghana at BMO Field), the best it can realistically hope for out of Group A is to scrap its way into second place. And that will mean, unless the world turns topsy-turvy, Canada would face the Germans.

Gulp.

After an incident-filled first half which saw both teams miss golden chances, the Germans simply dominated the Americans in the second half. The score was 2-0, but it could have been — should have been — 4-2 or 6-3.

But, even if some great chances weren’t converted, there is no denying the Germans weren’t worth a two-goal margin in this tournament’s group of death, which also includes Brazil and China.

“I don’t say it very often, especially to my team, but I am very proud of them,” German coach Maren Meinert said through a translator after the match. “They gave everything and, regardless of the outcome, it was a very good game. They played as a team.”
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FCE raves about new longer and wider pitch at Clarke Stadium

ClarkeTurfFor FC Edmonton’s players, there was cause for celebration, Tuesday.

After two and a half seasons of playing on the rock-hard, football-line filled turf at Clarke Stadium, the Eddies were able to train on the new FieldTurf surface for the first time.

“It’s quite nice,” said assistant coach Jeff Paulus. “It plays as close as we can get to real grass. I think it’s now the best artificial surface in the country. I can’t think of anything better.”

The installation of the $1.2 million, FIFA-approved turf at Clarke Stadium finishes two years worth of lobbying to get a surface that was free of the football lines. The lines can be painted on for junior and high-school football games played at the facility.

The new turf also allowed FC Edmonton the chance to expand the field dimensions — both length and width. The old dimensions saw the goal lines placed on the goal lines of a Canadian football field, 110 yards apart. The new field is now 115 yards long by 75 yards wide.
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