Please Retweet! The Gender Politics of Grass versus Plastic

Women's SoccerTrue story: There’s a guy in the neighborhood who hates to mow his lawn. So a number of years ago, he put artificial turf in his front yard. Aside from the fact that it is green, in no way does it compare to grass. The ground is rock hard, and to touch it is like 60-grit sandpaper. So imagine playing soccer (football) on it. I am not talking about passing a soccer ball to your seven year old, I am talking about an intense World Cup game. Imagine sliding tackles on it. Imagine falling on it and scraping arms, elbows, legs and even faces on it.

One more true story: I live in a fairly cold climate for six months out of the year. The grass on our front lawn may turn brittle and brown a bit, but it’s still grass and still softer than the plastic turf on that neighbor’s lawn.

If you have not heard, FIFA wants to hold its 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf. This has led me to question if anyone in the FIFA hierarchy has actually played the game of soccer.

Here’s the (sorry) kicker

The men’s world cup is played on the real stuff; on grass. In fact, the last 20 men’s World Cups have been played on grass. Why then, are women being forced to play on plastic sandpaper?

According to an article in Yahoo Sports (November 3, 2014) entitled: Soccer Icon Mia Hamm Renews Call For FIFA To Use Grass Field At 2015 World Cup, we learn that:

“More than 60 women soccer players have sued FIFA for discrimination. Part of their case is that all 20 men’s World Cup tournament were staged on grass. The upcoming Women’s World Cup in Canada will be played on artificial turf, and (Mia) Hamm is among the most prominent soccer figures to pan that decision. She says she understands that weather in Canada is a legitimate factor, but that shouldn’t be enough for turf to prevail over grass.”

The article goes on to say:

“To defend its decision, FIFA trotted out a field expert named Eric Harrison for a Q-&-A on its official website. Part of Harrison’s explanation was this: ‘A late winter would bring incredible pressure to bear on preparing such grounds for the Women’s World Cup. The majority of stadiums in Canada have accepted that only (artificial) turf is a credible surface to meet the demands of the weather and usage to which they wish to subject the fields.’”

Ah…a field expert!

With all due respect to Mr. Harrison, and to be ethically kind, soccer is played worldwide in the harshest of climates, in all seasons, on the real stuff. In fact some stadiums, even in Canada (where the event is to take place) have replaced the plastic with the real thing. From what I understand, a couple of the stadiums in Canada have both grass and retractable roofs. Rather than move the venue, FIFA is going to go full-steam ahead and opt for a lousy surface because it’s expedient.

By the way, Mr. Harrison, when it snows six inches on an American football turf field in December, somehow and in some way, they are able to get the field in shape for competition.

Why is FIFA going on with this plan? Well…maybe the women are right.

Gender Issues

It is impossible to disagree with the women athletes on this one, despite the field experts, the Canadian weather channel experts, the snow experts, the plastic turf experts and the media and PR experts, we are afraid it is a gender issue. Unless FIFA, right here and right now is going to publicly state that from now on all men’s World Cup’s will be held on plastic, then they have no case.

I predict they won’t do what I suggest, but will take the sexist approach. I hope the 60 women suing FIFA will succeed.


They cannot do it alone. This blog is all about taking an open and ethical position on sports issues without regard to gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and any other parameter you value to make certain that the playing field (sorry again) is level. To be crystal clear, this blog is NOT about turf versus plastic but about equality.

We have a limited number of followers and friends but I am hoping for retweets and posts. If you have ever played soccer or any other sport, if your daughter or son or niece or nephew or grandkids play soccer, contact FIFA.

Tell them what they are doing in unethical. Meanwhile, I will prepare my real turf lawn for winter and let the neighbor with the plastic continue to make a jackass of himself.


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