FIFA has once again rejected calls to switch the playing fields at the Women's World Cup to natural grass, insisting that matches will be played on artificial turf -- even though the organization will consider replacing some of the turf fields for better artificial options.
FIFA women's competitions head Tatjana Haenni said that artificial turfs at soccer stadiums in Vancouver, and elsewhere through Canada, will be tested to make sure they meet certain quality standards, and fields that fail to meet those standards will be replaced. But grass, she made clear, would not be installed.
The statements come despite loud calls for FIFA to give the Women's World Cup the same quality playing surfaces as men receive in their own World Cup. Prominent critics have included current U.S. star Abby Wambach, former U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm, and the NBA's Kobe Bryant, who have criticized FIFA for discriminating against women and not giving them the same playing conditions as men.
Several elite female soccer players have filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal in Ontario, Canada, over the matter. The tribunal has not yet made a statement on the issue.
But FIFA made it clear that the issue should be dead by now. Teams should focus on the tournament instead.
"I think some players said it as well, at one point there’s a time where you need to focus on football and on the event," Haenni said. "All those teams and players and coaches want to win that Women’s World Cup ... There's a certain time where you need to focus and you need to accept certain environmental or infrastructural conditions, whatever it is."
The Women's World Cup will take place in Canada this June and July.