The Inequality in the World Cup

This summer the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada this will host a record number of teams and passionate fans and  will be played on artificial turf. The last part has become something of a controversy amongst some of the world’s best and most elite female soccer players.

The 2015 Women’s World Cup marks the first senior tournament that has ever been played on artificial turf, sparking well-deserved backlash from players and fans who know that artificial turf spawns a different game than grass.

“[Artificial turf is] definitely hotter, that’s definitely going to be a factor,” said Frank Marino, the womens’ soccer coach at California Lutheran University and Westlake High School

According to a recent report by the Penn State Center for Sport Surface Research, surface temperatures of synthetic turf can reach 200 degrees fahrenheit.

Alex Morgan, star forward for the United States women’s national team, sees a notable difference when playing on grass.

“When I play on turf, my legs can pulse and ache for up to 24 hours, and it could take up to three to five days to recover, whereas grass, after 24 hours I’m ready to play again,” Morgan said in an interview with USA Today.

In the summer months of May and June when the Women’s World Cup takes place, the players will suffer from extremely high turf temperatures during some of the hottest hours of the day. On the other hand, grass fields would remain a consistent and safe temperature while also keeping relatively low-maintenance costs due to the consistent weather conditions of the summer months.

The difference from playing on turf to playing on grass has garnered enough criticism from some of the world’s female soccer stars to actually file a lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association.

The lawsuit filed by more than 40 players including USWNT star Abby Wambach, Morgan, and Brazilian soccer star Marta. The lawsuit was dropped in January due to skepticism that FIFA wouldn’t comply with a ruling even if they lost.

Having a pristine field makes a huge difference for a soccer player, by having a perfectly flat surface, clean grass and a weather-resistant pitch. However, these conditions can be used to describe the conditions of the grass field in every men’s world cup. listed several advantages to using turf over grass for soccer. Costs and upkeep were listed as an advantage. However, this justification would be inconsistent with FIFA’s past tournaments. Why suddenly care about field costs when the organization shells out thousands of dollars to maintain grass fields for the men’s tournaments?

Weather conditions could be an advantage to using turf. Turf will retain its shape and structure in the face of rain and wind whereas grass fields can become muddy and disheveled. However, like every FIFA World Cup in history, this edition will be played in the summer months and Canada is not expecting rain for any of the matches.

Instead the use of artificial turf presents a hazard to players by raising the temperature of the field. Soccer games are 90-minutes long, and according to a recent study by, soccer players run seven miles on average per game. Heating up the pitch will harm the players and slow down the game.

Another advantage is the pace of the game. Turf is flat and resistant to ruts, long grass and bumps. However, FIFA has gone through great lengths in the past to maintain the quality of its grass pitches before every World Cup game. Is that suddenly not a priority for the women’s edition?

The easy maintenance and consistency of an artificial turf field are wonderful reasons for a local high school to play on artificial turf. However, it should be no excuse for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. While FIFA affords premier grass fields for its men’s tournament every four years, they should be able to provide women with the same facilities.

Although the lawsuit has been dropped, conversation of the inequality of resources allotted to the women’s tournament must continue.


Kevin Repich
Staff Writer
Published May 6th, 2015