American soccer star slams Canada hosting 2015 World Cup

USA's Abby Wambach (L) celebrates defeating Canada in the women's semifinal soccer match at the...

USA's Abby Wambach (L) celebrates defeating Canada in the women's semifinal soccer match at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford in Manchester, August 6, 2012. (REUTERS)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

The U.S. and Canadian women’s soccer teams have long been rivals inside the lines.

Initially reignited by last summer’s Olympic refereeing controversy, one of the best rivalries in the sport took a much different turn Monday when an American star took a shot at FIFA’s decision to award Canada the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

"For me, the first thought is disappointment," American forward Abby Wambach said of Canada being chosen to host one of soccer’s marquee events. "I'm feeling like this is the women's game taking a step back."

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Wambach disclosed that the American women were asked to take a survey last month concerning artificial surfaces, the main controversy tied to Canada hosting the event.

Five of Canada’s six host cities – Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton – feature venues with turf fields, a surface undesirable to those who play the game, specifically the Americans.

"All we really ask for is to be heard," Wambach told SI. "We believe this is a shame not only for the players but for the fans. The game plays differently on artificial surface, not only because of fear of injury but because it's a different surface.

It didn’t take long for the world’s leading female goal-scorer to throw out the gender card.

“You can also talk about it being a gender discrimination issue,” Wambach said. “Would they ever let the men's World Cup be played on an artificial surface?"

A number of U.S. soccer stars have already voiced their displeasure with turf fields via Twitter.

"I'm willing to do whatever it takes," Wambach said. "There are standards of the game that FIFA governs and promises to uphold. I think (a World Cup with artificial turf) would be a travesty and a nightmare for all of us."

FIFA standards do permit major World Cup qualifiers to be played on turf. Until recently, Costa Rica regularly hosted matches on a plastic surface. Further, due to harsh winter conditions, Russia has been cleared to host games on turf.

When Canada hosted the under-20 men’s World Cup in 2007, the tournament final was played on turf at BMO Field in Toronto.

The U.S. women are scheduled to face Canada in an international friendly this summer in Toronto, their first meeting since Canada fell to the Americans in the semifinals at London 2012.


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