FIFA Women's World Cup: gender discrimation allegations dog promotional efforts
The controversy over FIFA's decision to hold the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada on artificial turf continues to dog efforts to promote the event.
Canada is scheduled to host the World Cup next year at six sites across the country, with the final scheduled to be played at BC Place Stadium, the home field of the Vancouver White Caps.
On Thursday, Canadian Soccer Association officials and players were in town promoting the event, hoping to duplicate some of the excitement, and cash generated by the Men's World Cup in Brazil earlier this year.
But many of the players say it's discrimination to force them to play on artificial turf, rather real grass like the men.
Last month a group of elite international players filed a lawsuit over the issue, alleging gender discrimination.
The issue got more attention when basketball superstar Kobe Bryant posted a picture of American player Sydney Leroux's bruised legs, which she said were scarred by playing on artificial turf.
"It is a gender equality issue," she said. "No chance men will ever play a World Cup on turf. I think the women are being treated as guinea pigs."
Former Canadian national team player Carrie Serwetnyk agrees, saying grass is the true surface of champions.
"They would never in a heartbeat think of putting anything less than grass for the men," she said. "They'd protest. It would be a scandal."
The Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani says it's up to FIFA to comment on the issue, but denied Thursday that the issue is about the grass being greener for male players.
"It's just misinformation and hyperbole which has no room in the game," he said.
"The amount of investment we make in the women's game is second to none and we're very proud of that."
Montagliani says the CSA spends a little over $4 million a year on the women's program—about twice the amount spent on the men's program.
Twitter: This is @DrinkBODYARMOR athlete @sydneyleroux after playing on turf!
With files from the CBC's Greg Rasmussen