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Abby Wambach leads players’ lawsuit over turf at 2015 World Cup


U.S. women’s national team superstar Abby Wambach is leading a group of 40 players suing FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association over the use of artificial turf at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

[RELATED: USWNT’s Gold Cup draw]

The players’ lawsuit was filed in the Ontario tribunal court on Wednesday as they cite gender discrimination ahead of the World Cup which begins on June 6 and runs until July 5.

USWNT forward Wambach, Germany national team ‘keeper Nadine Angerer, USA star Alex Morgan, Brazil’s Fabiana Da Silva Simoes and Spain’s Veronica Boquete are among the players filing the suit.

They have asked that the lawsuit is expedited due to the World Cup kicking off in June 2015 and have requested a date of Nov. 26 for the hearing to take place. The entire lawsuit, obtained by NBC Sports, can be read here.

For more details, background information and quotes from the players involved, check out this in-depth piece from NBC Sports’ Jeff Kassouf.

An extract from Jeff’s piece can be found below, as the lawsuit against turf being installed across the six 2015 World Cup venues heats up.

Canada will host the 2015 Women’s World Cup in six venues that all currently have artificial turf playing surfaces. The players and their lawyers say that artificial turf is a “substandard” surface that heightens the risk of injury, and that men would never play a World Cup on turf. Every men’s World Cup has been played on grass, and the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are scheduled to be played on grass.

Section One of the Ontario Human Rights Code establishes that “every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination” including gender.

Legal action was first threatened by the group in late July, as reported by The Equalizer, in hopes that FIFA and Canada Soccer would discuss changes.

FIFA repeatedly dismissed the accusations, and earlier this week FIFA deputy director of women’s competition Tatjana Haenni said “there’s no plan B” and that the World Cup will be played on artificial turf.

Haenni was in Canada with an independent examiner to make sure all six venues’ turf meets FIFA guidelines. FIFA recommended turf is approved for all competitions, provided that every surface be consistent and similar. Five of the six venues already had turf; grass was ripped out of Moncton Stadium to install turf.

“Our lawyers will be reviewing any and all applications or information related to this,” a Canada Soccer spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. “We will refrain from any comment until there has been a thorough review.”

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