4 Oct 2014

Claims FIFA sexist over artificial turf

11:03 am on 4 October 2014

New Zealand Football says it isn't concerned by the use of artificial pitches for the women's football World Cup in Canada next year.

A number of the world's top female players, including some from here, have filed a gender discrimination suit against world governing body FIFA and the Canada Soccer Association over the planned use of the synthetic surfaces at the World Cup.

Abby Wambach in action against New Zealand in 2013

Abby Wambach in action against New Zealand in 2013 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

As well as New Zealand, players from Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Spain are also involved in the action.

However New Zealand Football's chief executive Andy Martin doesn't see it as a case of discrimination and has backed the decision by the game's governing body.

Martin says the players are of course entitled to their own opinions, but NZF takes the view that FIFA will have done an absolutely thorough job of assessing the pitches they'll play on to make sure they're up to standard, and they've done that millions of times before.

Legal proceedings have begun against at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Lawyer Attorney Hampton Dellinger told BBC Sport he represents nearly 50 players involved in the action from 12 countries.

These include previous FIFA Women's Player of the Year winners, the American great Abby Wambach - the highest goalscorer in football history, men's or women's, with 170 - and German Nadine Angerer.

"Men's World Cup tournament matches are played on natural grass while CSA and FIFA are relegating female players to artificial turf," says Dellinger.

"The difference matters - plastic pitches alter how the game is played, pose unique safety risks and are considered inferior for international competition."