(CBS SF) — Members of U.S. Soccer’s Women’s National Team, including Cal alumni Alex Morgan, have filed suit in Canada over plans to use artificial turf fields in next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The lawsuit against the Canadian Soccer Association and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association was filed in a Canadian human rights court and alleges the two associations are discriminating against female players by forcing them to play the preeminent soccer event on turf as opposed to natural grass men’s World Cup teams play on.
In the complaint, the players said:
“CSA and FIFA’s decision to hold the tournament on artificial turf is inherently discriminatory and injures an elite group of female athletes in three significant ways: (1) by forcing them to compete on a surface that fundamentally alters the way the game is played, (2) by subjecting them to unique and serious risks of injury, and (3) by devaluing their dignity, state of mind and self-respect as a result of requiring them to play on a second-class surface before tens of thousands of stadium spectators and a global broadcast audience.”
Female soccer players and their supporters note that brand-new stadiums were built in Brazil solely to host a handful of men’s World Cup games last summer.
Some U.S. pro sports stars such as Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant have voiced their support for the push to get the women to play on grass.
Besides Morgan, other World Cup players joining in the lawsuit include U.S. teammate Abby Wambach, Brazil’s Fabiana Da Silva Simoes, Germany’s Nadine Angerer and Spain’s Veronica Boquete.
In a statement provided to Associated Press, players’ attorney Hampton Dellinger said, “The gifted athletes we represent are determined not to have the sport they love be belittled on their watch. Getting an equal playing field at the World Cup is a fight female players should not have to wage but one from which they do not shrink. In the end, we trust that fairness and equality will prevail over sexism and stubbornness.”
On Tuesday, a FIFA official visiting Canada Tuesday said there were no plans to reconsider playing the World Cup on artificial turf.
World Cup organizers say they plan to sell 1.5 million tickets to the 24-team, 52-match tournament scheduled for next summer. The last Women’s World Cup in Germany, with Japan beating the U.S. in the final, was a 16-team, 32-game tournament that drew 845,711 fans.