It looks like there will be no friendly solution to the so-called “turf wars” over the 2015 Women’s World Cup. On Friday, the Canadian Soccer Association declined to enter into early mediation with a group of top female soccer players, who filed a lawsuit against the CSA and FIFA in the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in October.
The suit alleges sexual discrimination over CSA’s and FIFA’s decision to install artificial turf instead of real grass in the host stadiums of next year’s tournament. Since 1930, men have never had to play the World Cup on artificial turf, and the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cups are slated to be played on grass, as well.
“Just hours after the Tribunal took them up on the parties’ offer to mediate, the Canadian Soccer Association shockingly rejected mediation. They essentially told the Tribunal and the players that they refuse to negotiate,” the players’ attorney Hampton Dellinger said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post. “Yet according to the Tribunal’s order, both the players and CSA had previously agreed to consider mediation. Either the Tribunal was misled by CSA or it was mistaken in a fundamental way that clearly requires revisiting the players’ request to expedite.”
The players are now left with only one option — to bring the case to court, which legal experts say the women are likely to win. FIFA, meanwhile, which has long contended that artificial turf does not increase the likelihood of injury, would suffer another swathe of negative press.
“The women in this case have an almost lethal combination of facts and law and brilliant lawyers who are getting ready to file this case,” ESPN’s legal analyst Lester Munson said after the decision went public on Friday. “[The] women’s success in this case is going to be almost automatic.” He added that the evidence outlined by Dellinger in his court filing is “overwhelming.”
The lawsuit outlines 15 clear-cut legal violations, and points out that by making the women, but not the men, play on artificial turf, FIFA and the CSA are not following their own policies. The plaintiffs have also outlined acceptable solutions in a document they call the “Pitch Perfect” proposal that would allow FIFA and the CSA to remedy the turf problem as late as next spring, pending a court decision. The tournament is scheduled to begin in June.
The plaintiffs, which include FIFA’s 2013 Women’s Player of the Year Nadine Angerer of Germany, FIFA’s 2012 Women’s Player of the Year Abby Wambach of the United States and 16 other top-tier players from around the world, will ask the Tribunal to reconsider fast-tracking the case in court.
Meanwhile, the women have benefited from a wide variety of statements of support, including from celebrities, such as Kobe Bryant and Tom Hanks and most recently from the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association, which represents male players in the United States.
“We know firsthand the importance of playing the World Cup on natural grass and the ways playing on artificial turf changes the game’s fundamentals. We have all played on artificial turf and we know there are circumstances where it is appropriate or conditions require its use, but the World Cup is not one of those circumstances. To play the Women’s World Cup on artificial turf would be a serious mistake,” the USNSTPA statement reads. “We support the right of the women players to stand up for what they believe.”
Source courtesy of: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2014/11/10/top-womens-soccer-players-to-proceed-with-fifa-turf-wars-lawsuit-after-canadian-soccer-association-rejects-mediation/
Story courtesy of: Marissa Payne
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