Turf at Commonwealth Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/CANADA SOCCER
NASL vs. USL. Free agency vs. MLS central control of contracts. Grass vs. turf. These are debates that go round and round and round in North American soccer.
The grass vs. turf debate was a topic of debate once again on Wednesday, during a sponsored conference call with three members of the women’s national team — Rhian Wilkinson, Erin McLeod and Diana Matheson — and Women’s World Cup communications officer Sandra Gage.
Gage was asked about the complaints being made from some of the world’s top female players — most notably American Abby Wambach — about all of the 2015 Women’s World Cup being played on artificial turf.
“We are comfortable with the decision we have made to play all matches on artificial turf,” said Gage. In fact, she said, it’s a FIFA requirement to have all of the World Cup match fields and training pitches be of the same surface. She said you can’t mix turf and grass and still be able to comply with FIFA Fair Play regulations.
Now, it is worth noting that, when Canada hosted the 2007 U-20 World Cup, there was a mix of surfaces — Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium was used before the switch was made from grass to turf, while BMO Field staged the final before its surface was changed from turf to grass. But, according to Gage, and this was confirmed by the CSA after the media call, the expectation for the Women’s World Cup, or any senior tourney, is that you go either all grass or all turf. And Canada is committed to all turf. Standards are different for youth tournaments, where mixes of surfaces are tolerated.
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