FIFA Archive

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The grass vs. turf debate, part MMXLVII: Why turf is the option for the Women’s World Cup

Turf at Commonwealth Stadium. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/CANADA SOCCER

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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CSA continues to talk about 2026 World Cup bid: Why an early statement of intent is vital

Victor Montagliani

Victor Montagliani

The Canadian Soccer Association’s plan to bid for the 2026 World Cup isn’t exactly a secret. In fact, it’s been openly talked about since FIFA confirmed this country as the host of the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

CSA president Victor Montagliani continued the pattern this weekend, telling the CBC that all the ducks are being placed in a row for an official bid that will come in a couple of years time. (CLICK HERE)

This only echoes CSA General Secretary Peter Montopoli’s comments that he made to the media in Edmonton back in March, where he called the U-20 World Cup and Women’s World Cup the “building blocks” toward a 2026 World Cup bid. (CLICK HERE)

Montagliani and Montopoli are doing the right thing, revealing the CSA’s intentions well ahead of the actual bid process.

Of course, how seriously our bid will be received will depend on how well we do as hosts of the Women’s World Cup. But, by making no secret of Canada’s intentions, we’re the first country in CONCACAF to plant our flag. And that’s important. CONCACAF feels that this region will get the 2026 World Cup (CLICK HERE), especially after the American bid was rebuffed for Qatar 2022. Of course, that could mean there are American and/or Mexican bids to come, depending on how many billions of dollars or pesos their governments wish to spend (or not spend).

Canada is in a unique position. We share our first division with the United States — or, as the cynic would say, we have three Canadian teams in American first division. But, with an early statement of intent, the CSA can use that relationship to its favour.
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Webb: CONCACAF nation should host 2026 World Cup

Jeffrey Webb

Jeffrey Webb

If CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb gets his way, the 2026 World Cup will be played in the CONCACAF region.

Speaking in a press conference prior to the opening of the 2013 Gold Cup, Webb was asked about the potential of the tournament returning to the region for the first time since the United States hosted in 1994 with Webb admitting he’s already spoken to the heads of the Mexican and American federations as well as Victor Montagliani from the Canadian Soccer Association about such a possibility.

“It doesn’t matter — for me or one of the 41 members, whether it’s the United States, Mexico or Canada, I believe it is too important for us to host the World Cup in 2026,” Webb said emphatically. “And that will have been 32 years, which would have been the longest time since World War II that we have not hosted the World Cup as a confederation.”

The United States were runners up to Qatar for the rights to host the 2022 World Cup and Webb said the CONCACAF region were the biggest losers when FIFA decided to stop rotating the rights through the confederations after awarding 2014 to CONMEBOL and Brazil.

Naturally, the optimist would be delighted at the prospect of Canada hosting a World Cup but with a massive injection of money that would be required for stadium infrastructure and the high possibility of white-elephant venues at the conclusion of the tournament, it would be a tall ask for Canada to front a tournament by itself. But both Montagliani and CSA General Secretary Peter Montopoli have strongly hinted that Canada will have an all-in bid in place.
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Quebec Soccer Federation lifts turban ban

quebec colourAs had been expected for the better part of the last 24 hours, the Quebec Soccer Federation has lifted its ban on turbans.

The QSF made the announcement Saturday; and that should bring an end to a skirmish that took on an ugly political life over the last week.

The QSF said it welcomed FIFA’s ruling that was issued on Friday (CLICK HERE) that said that it does indeed have a temporary measure in place to allow turbans on the field of the play, as long as they are worn in a “professional manner” and are the same colour as the jersey.

Quebec has been the centre of the turban controversy since April, when the Canadian Soccer Association issued a directive that said all member associations must allow turbans, patkas and keski. That directive was really a direct message to the QSF, as all of the other provincial associations already allow the headgear.
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FIFA’s turban endorsement has troubling loopholes

fifa-logoFIFA now has confirmed that turbans are allowed on the fields of play… with conditions.

The “with conditions” part should be of some concern, because the loopholes that exist in Friday’s FIFA pronouncement are wide enough to drive a truck through.

Soccer’s governing body made a public statement Friday confirming that it has, as it awaits a final decision on the issue of turbans on the field, have an interim endorsement of the religious headwear in place. The letter was aimed directly at the Canadian Soccer Association, which on Monday decided to suspend the Quebec Soccer Federation for not allowing the headgear on its fields of play. The QSF, despite the suspension, decided to uphold its ban.

Here is the letter:
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Toronto added to U-20 Women’s World Cup host-city list

fifa-logoToronto will be a host city for the U-20 Women’s World Cup.

The city was named one of four hosts for the 2014 tourney. The announcement was made at BMO Field ahead of Canada’s sold-out women’s match Sunday against the United States. The other host cities are Edmonton, Montreal and Moncton.

Toronto had been out of the mix for the Women’s World Cup and U-20 Women’s World Cup, as the city’s hosting of the Pan Am Games in 2015 made it impossible for the Ontario capital to be part of Canada’s bid.
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Pedersen’s name not on list of 40 “potential candidates” for 2015 WWC ref assignments

The 40 candidates pose with FIFA president Sepp Blatter. PHOTO: FOTONET

The 40 candidates pose with FIFA president Sepp Blatter. PHOTO: FOTONET

On Wednesday, FIFA released the names of 40 referees who are “potential candidates” for inclusion in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Canadian referee Carol Anne Chenard’s name is on the list. Norwegian official Christina Pedersen’s name is not.

The 40 officials are in Zurich this week, attending medicals and a seminar that begin the planning stages for the Women’s World Cup, which opens in Edmonton and closes with the final game at Vancouver’s B.C. Place.

“This is an incredibly important seminar,” Sonia Denoncourt, Head of Women’s Referees at FIFA, was quoted in a release. “It is the first real step towards choosing candidates for the Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada. The event is two-and-a-half years away and we are starting off with a large group of female referees. We’ll be testing them and then selecting the best at the end.”
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Canada prepares the “building blocks” for World Cup 2026

fifa-logoA couple of days ago, Canadian Soccer Association General Secretary Peter Montopoli was at Edmonton’s City Hall and was asked about a possible bid for the 2026 World Cup.

Montopoli described the hosting of the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2015 Women’s World Cup as “building blocks” towards a bid for 2026; and, he noted that, in July of 2015, Canada can boast that it’s hosted all the major tournaments except for the biggest one of them all.

Montopoli was in Edmonton for the announcement of the city as the host of the opening ceremonies and first game of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, so he was right to feel bullish.

There’s no doubt that there is a section of FIFA voters who are enamoured with Canada; despite the fact we don’t have the on-field profile of CONCACAF neighbours Mexico and the United States, we offer stability and certainty, without the American bluster that seems to turn so many international voters off (see: IOC vote and Chicago, 2014 Olympics, U.S. World Cup bid, 2022).
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Edmonton and Vancouver the big winners out of Women’s World Cup announcement

IMG_1064

(L-R) Richard Starke, Stephen Mandel, Peter Montopoli and John Herdman at Edmonton’s City Hall., Thursday.

In 2002, Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium welcomed more than 45,000 fans for the final of the then-named FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship. It still stands as the high-water mark for attendance at a women’s youth match.

Eleven years later, and that achievement still resonates with FIFA. On Thursday, the Organizing Committee for the 2015 Women’s World Cup announced that Commonwealth would host the June 6 opening ceremonies and Canada’s first two group-stage matches. Canada’s third Group A match would be played in Montreal.

The final is set for BC Place in Vancouver. If Canada finishes first in Group A, it will advance to a round of 16 match in Vancouver. If it advances, the quarterfinal will go in Vancouver. If Canada wins that match, it advances to a Canada Day semifinal at Commonwealth and, hopefully, the final, July 5 at B.C. Place.

The third-place game is set for Edmonton. The Alberta capital will host more matches (11) than any other host city.
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Occean suspension must be served over “official” matches, not friendlies: FIFA

Olivier Occean

There looks to be some confusion out there in regards to FIFA’s decision to suspend Olivier Occean for six matches.

FIFA made the decision back in November of 2012 that the Canadian striker would be suspended for six games, but didn’t make it official until Monday. Occean was sent off in a 3-0 win over Cuba Oct. 12 at BMO Field, and was found guilty of verbally abusing an official.

Occean was unavailable for the 8-1 loss to Honduras that ousted Canada from the World Cup, so was considered to have served the first game of the suspension then.

The question is, do Canada’s friendlies count as matches against the remaining five games?
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