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Rediff.com  » Sports » FIFA open to men's WCup on artificial turf after gender bias claims

FIFA open to men's WCup on artificial turf after gender bias claims

October 30, 2014 11:06 IST

Jessie Fleming #10 of Canada pass the pass while getting challenged by Mizuho Sakaguchi #6 of Japan in Women's International Soccer Friendly

Jessie Fleming #10 of Canada is challenged by Mizuho Sakaguchi #6 of Japan during their Women's International Soccer Friendly Series at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Tuesday (This image is for representational purposes only). Photograph: Rich Lam/Getty Images

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has dismissed allegations of gender discrimination over the decision to play the women's World Cup on artificial turf, saying the surface could also be used for the men's tournament in the future.

"It could well be that sooner rather than later the men’s World Cup will also be played on artificial pitches," he said in an interview on FIFA's own website (www.fifa.com).

Forty international women players, including FIFA Player of the Year Nadine Angerer, have filed a lawsuit in Canada, host nation of next year's tournament against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA).

They claim that FIFA and the CSA are discriminating against women by staging the event on artificial grass which they say poses safety risks and alters how the game is played.

The World Cup finals for men and women, each contested every four years, have always been played on natural grass.

"I can personally guarantee (the pitches) will be of the highest international standard for the official stadiums and three training sites per host city," said Valcke.

"This is the reason why we have hired... an independent pitch expert and will also have a technical testing institute to monitor and verify the quality.

"Everybody can be assured that we take the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 very seriously and are committed to working together with the national organising committee to organise the best possible tournament."

He added: "For many years now, any organiser of a FIFA event – irrespective of whether it be a men’s or women’s competition, including the men’s World Cup -– has had the right to propose for the tournament to be played on artificial turf, provided that it is of the highest quality and the same playing surface is used for all venues and training sites."

Valcke said that climate was behind the decision to use artificial turf.

"Most sporting infrastructure in Canada is on artificial turf, primarily due to the extreme climate. It would be very difficult to ensure solid natural-grass pitches at all venues," he said.

"This is not a question of money, or of differences between men’s and women’s events, but it is a matter of the natural conditions in Canada: we want to guarantee consistent top-level playing conditions for all 24 teams during the event.

"This has been the sole reason behind the decision to play on artificial turf from day one."

River Plate winger Sanchez earns first Uruguay call-up

River Plate's Carlos Sanchez

Carlos Sanchez. Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

River Plate winger Carlos Sanchez has earned his first Uruguay call-up in a squad that includes strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani for friendlies against Costa Rica and Chile next month.

The 29-year-old has been rewarded for his fine form for the Argentine champions and league leaders with his inclusion in the squad named on Wednesday by coach Oscar Tabarez.

Cavani is back in after being rested when Uruguay played two friendlies in the Middle East this month which marked Suarez's return.

Suarez is serving a FIFA ban from competitive internationals for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in Brazil in June, though his four-month suspension from all football except friendlies ended on Saturday with his Barcelona debut in the 3-1 defeat at Real Madrid.

Uruguay host Costa Rica at the Centenario on Nov. 13 in their first meeting since the Central Americans' shock 3-1 victory in their opening World Cup group match. The Uruguayans play Chile away in Santiago on November 18.