Faced with a turf that was buckling and a narrow playing field that was hazardous to its athletes, the U.S. women's national soccer team canceled its scheduled match against Trinidad and Tobago at Hawaii's Aloha Stadium.
The match was canceled just hours after the team's first practice on the field. Both the players and coach Jill Ellis were appalled by the conditions and sought to cancel the match. Ellis also told reporters that she aired her grievances to the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Star forward Alex Morgan said that the women's team had to stand up for itself.
"I think the training grounds that we were given and the playing surface of the stadium were horrible. I think it's hard because no one's really going to protect us but ourselves," Morgan said, according to Fox Sports. "So we're put in a very hard position because obviously we want to play in front of these fans and we want to train before the game but injuries happen when you don't protect yourself and when you're not protected from those higher up from you."
The USWNT's history with poor playing turf is a long and ugly one. Most notably, several of its prominent members criticized FIFA for playing the 2014 Women's World Cup on artificial turf, while the men's World Cup used a natural grass surface that was much safer for players.
Compounding frustrations in Hawaii was news that Megan Rapinoe tore her ACL in practice. Ellis insisted the injury was not related to the turf, but it made for an even gloomier trip. The team will be missing Rapinoe as it looks to qualify for the Olympics in February.
The team's decision to cancel its match in Hawaii was foreshadowed a bit by comments Morgan made earlier in the day, when she said the women's team needs to be more vocal about demanding better treatment and support from soccer's governing bodies.
"We've been told by U.S. Soccer that the field's condition and the size of the field are the first two talking points of when they decide on a field, so I'm not sure why eight or nine of our 10 Victory Tour games are on turf whereas the men haven't played on turf this year," Morgan said. "There have been zero games, so that's a concern of mine."
Maybe this decision will push those authorities to change their habits.
— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) December 6, 2015