FIFA, CSA accused of discrimination ahead of Women's World Cup: Report

Abby Wambach of the U.S. celebrates after winning their women's soccer final gold medal match...

Abby Wambach of the U.S. celebrates after winning their women's soccer final gold medal match against Japan at Wembley Stadium during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 9, 2012. (REUTERS)

Kurtis Larson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:58 AM ET

Soccer’s governing body is discriminating against women by allowing the Canadian Soccer Association to host next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup on artificial playing surfaces across Canada.

That’s what a group of 40 female soccer stars have alleged according to The Equalizer, which reported Tuesday that the group has retained legal counsel to fight against a “second class” playing surface which they say amounts to “gender discrimination” that violates Canadian and European charters.

The Equalizer also reported Tuesday that the Canadian Soccer Association confirmed it received a letter addressed to CSA top boss Victor Montagliani and CEO Peter Montopoli notifying them of the movement.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this year, Wambach disclosed that the American women were asked to take a survey concerning artificial surfaces, the main controversy tied to Canada hosting next summer’s World Cup.

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.

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

Although a FIFA Men’s World Cup has never been staged on an artificial playing surface, FIFA does allow for male international fixtures to be played on turf provided a venue meets guidelines laid out in a 103-page document.

When Canada hosted the FIFA Under-20 Men’s World Cup in 2007, Toronto’s BMO Field – which at the time utilized an artificial surface – hosted the final.

Another U.S. soccer star, Megan Rapinoe, recently called the idea of playing a World Cup on plastic “absurd”.

“It’s really a slap in the face to women's football by FIFA and just a show of disrespect," Rapinoe said, according to SB Nation.

In Toronto Monday afternoon for the start of the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter dismissed arguments against artificial playing surfaces, saying the technology has improved vastly over the past decade.

Canada won the right to host next summer’s tournament after bidding unopposed.

No members of Canada’s women’s national team have voiced similar displeasure.


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