Turfgate: FIFA’s Valcke affirms that a men’s World Cup could be staged on turf By Steven Sandor Posted on October 29, 2014 1 0 536 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter In 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.” FIFA’s Secretary-General has gone on the record and basically said that turf is indeed an option for a men’s World Cup. It’s a major development. And, it opens the door for Canada to make a bid for the 2026 men’s World Cup with turf — if that’s the road the CSA would want to go down. We’ve been waiting for a FIFA official to make this admission, because acknowledging that the men’s World Cup is fair game for artificial-turf-based bids changes the discussion for the legal teams. Valcke’s comments come right on the heels of allegations from the plaintiffs that some of the Mexican and French players who were involved in the legal action dropped out because of intimidation by their own national association and/or FIFA. The CSA has denied it has intimidated or threatened any player involved in the argument against turf.