FIFA defends 2015 World Cup synthetic turf decision

FIFA’s Moya Dodd is sympathetic to players protesting about synthetic turf at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, but insists that Canada was the best bid.

About 40 top players have signed a petition and threatened legal action if matches are not played on grass.

Dodd told BBC Sport: “Of course I have sympathy with players who want to play in the best conditions.

“But the important thing is to ensure that the tournament will be played in the best facilities available.”

The Australian, who was voted onto FIFA’s Executive Committee in 2013, added: “Certainly, the World Cup is being played in the country with the best bid.”

The petition has been signed by the 2012 and 2013 FIFA Players of the Year, Abby Wambach of the United States and Germany’s Nadine Angerer, as well as former England captain Faye White and current England players Natasha Dowie and Anita Asante.

Lawyers representing the group have accused FIFA and World Cup organisers of discrimination, with the group calling on global football chiefs, including UEFA’s Michel Platini, to intervene.

The players also allege they were misled by FIFA into believing that traditional playing surfaces would be provided if there was significant opposition to the artificial pitches.

But former Australian international Dodd added: “In some countries, [synthetic turf] is the best or only viable option in order to host a World Cup, so I don’t think you can exclude it on that basis.

“I’ve played on synthetic turf and it’s been better than a lot of the grass pitches I’ve played on. It’s easy to generalise around the quality of turf, and those generalisations aren’t always accurate. It’s important to be open to technological advancements that make football better and more accessible.”


Source courtesy of: newtelegraphonline.com

Photo courtesy of: GETTY IMAGES


  1. Gina West 6 years ago

    Yes that is true. As far as I remember there were only two bidders, Canada and Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe decided to withdraw their bid and therefore Canada were awarded. I am pretty sure that was in 2011 so there has been a lot of time to have a plan to get grass pitches ready.

    I completely agree and understand the point that in some countries to enable regular football they use artificial turf… But I can not agree for the World Cup.

    I have played on artificial pitches, the older style (astro turf) and the more advanced surfaces they use today…. The one where those annoying black beads can be seen flying around everywhere! It does impact on your game both physically and mentally, from my experience.

    Do you think the women are being used as a trial and that this is actually something that will be introduced to the men’s World Cup purely on the fact that certain host countries will not be able to use grass pitches?

    The information on TV money is staggering!

    • Sebastian Kanty 6 years ago

      Funny thing, just today Swedish media had some interviews with a couple of players in anticipation for the Sweden – Bosnia-Hercegovina qualifier on Saturday, and they asked Kosovare Asllani what she thought about the whole thing. She said that one of her teammates, that just returned from the U-20 WC (I guess Lindsey Horan), said that it was really hard to play on those pitches, cause it was turf, of the older kind. The interview didn’t specify if all games were played on the older kind, but that’s beside the point. That FIFA would allow the use of older turfs, even if it were ONLY a U-20 tournament, is just sad.

      I don’t think it is a trial run for the mens WC. The FA’s around the world, especially the stronger ones would go ballistic if their beloved sport would be forced to play on turf. I could even see UEFA FA’s pull out of FIFA entirely, and start a new organization. Womens football is still too small, and still have to few supporters to be really acknowledged by FIFA as it should have been.

      In the mens game, there is so much more money, that even if the WC would have been played in winter, they would find a way to make it happen. Qatar’s new WC arenas will have air-conditioning, as it is now. I know that FIFA are considering moving the WC a couple of months, but that’s just talk, as it stands now.

      Canada has pretty much the same weather as we have in Sweden, and it is proven here, that grass work just fine, (I’m talking about the men here, with stadiums a tad bigger than those of the Damallsvenskan). Of course there are exceptions, in Sweden, the teams aren’t rich, so they don’t own the stadiums, and the owner decides. But many teams have regular grass. I know one team that wanted to have a new stadium, the city said ok, we will build it, but it will have turf, so they went for it, but other than that, it works.

      Yeah, perhaps the pitches gets a bit rugged after half a season or a whole season (don’t really know for sure), but if they are heated, the sky is the limit. For example, last years UWCL. I believe Wolfsburg took on a russian team, and the game was moved from Wolfsburgs own homeground to the mens stadium. The reason was that the womens team pitch was under a lot of snow. The mens though, is heated. So grass can be had in harsh cold weather. It just needs a little love. Some sun, or lamps in the winter, and voila. The same love applies in warmer climates, but with different techniques. A lot of water, and shield the pitch so It doesn’t get too much sun. Haven’t really thought how the do it, perhaps a tarp or something similar.

      But these example’s are primarily for pitches there are used for regular seasons, which are long, and have many more games on them. That being said, I can’t see that they should be too hard to maintain for only a month long tournament. It worked in Sweden fair enough at the Euro’s, so it should pass muster in Canada too.

      • Gina West 6 years ago

        That is interesting about the feedback from the U-20 Women’s World Cup as one of their main arguments is that the artificial pitches are so well advanced, so to be using the older kind is even more disappointing.

        Yeah, I think you are right. The response for doing this to a men’s World Cup would be on a whole different scale.

        I completely agree with your points, it wouldn’t take much with all their resources and expertise to maintain grass pitches for a month long tournament in Canada.

        It is disappointing that with all the displays of how much they are behind the women’s game, there is still not enough love, respect or effort to give them the highest level and quality they deserve.

        It seems to me that apart from this statement… FIFA will continue to remain silent on the matter until it is too late for anything to be done.

  2. Sebastian Kanty 6 years ago

    Never heard of this Dodd character, is it a he or she? Doesn’t really matter, the point that some turfs are better than some pitches is true. Not all teams have the money or means to maintain a good pitch. And that is true for both sexes as I see it, especially if the men are from a very small league or in a lower division/tier.

    When Sweden went to Northern Ireland for the WC Qualifying game, they were stunned that UEFA allowed a game to take place on that pitch. Apparently it wasn’t really UEFA approved, and one side of the pitch were many degrees higher than the other side. So a ball would tend to roll down that side, and not straight. According to Swedish FA the pitch was at Shamrock Park.

    But that was a qualifier, and could be somewhat overlooked. For the WC, it’s sad that FIFA can’t take out 6 million $ from their bank-account and pay for regular pitches. It says that Canada got the WC since it had the best bid. That might be true, but as I recall, the other bidders pulled out, so at the end of the day what choice did FIFA have, other than appoint the WC to Canada? But that’s also beside the point, they should have demanded that all games, regardless which country would win, should provide stadiums/arenas with regular grass pitches. How hard could that be, to make such a demand?

    This article published on BBC, should mention that mens leagues, such as the Premier League doesn’t have to worry about costs maintaining a good pitch, since any single club could basically buy pitches for all those stadiums in Canada, and they probably wouldn’t even notice that the money is gone, since it such a small sum.

    For your information, the team that got the worst deal in terms of TV-money in the Premier League, Cardiff City, got £ 63,7 million, and that’s only the TV-money. Ad sponsors and such and it’s just staggering how much money the worst teams in the Premier League have. Compare that to Swedish mens league, where the Swedish Champions Malmö FF has a annual turnover (TV-money/sponsors and such) of £ 10,557,000. Probably not even a tenth of the wealth of the lowest ranked/worst Premier League team.

  3. Gina West 6 years ago

    I am pleased that there has finally been some kind of response from FIFA but personally I am not happy with the decision.

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