A match that was set to be played in paradise, was anything but when U.S. Soccer pulled the plug last minute on Sunday’s game between the U.S. Women’s National Team and Trinidad & Tobago.
Thousands of soccer fans traveled to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii to watch the World Cup champions during their victory tour, only to wake up on game day to find out the match had been canceled.
Canceled because the field at the stadium on was deemed “unplayable”. The USWNT authored an articled entitled “Equal Footing” on the Player’s Tribune in which they explained the circumstances surrounding their decision to cancel the game:
“ It wasn’t until we got to Aloha Stadium the next day — the day before the match against Trinidad and Tobago — that we finally saw, for the first time, how bad the stadium’s field truly was. The conditions were such that our coach shortened practice to a brief 30-minute training session so we wouldn’t risk injury before the game. There were sharp rocks ingrained all over the field. They were everywhere. The artificial turf was actually pulling up out of the ground, and the turf itself was both low-grade and aging. This was a playing surface that looked like it hadn’t been replaced in years.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Megan Rapinoe tore her ACL during the team’s practice session on Friday, which the team also said took place on subpar conditions. The team took their concerns to the U.S. Soccer Federation who ultimately made the final call to cancel the game.
On Tuesday, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati issued an apology, saying “We had a series of mistakes involving this game. We screwed up. It won’t happened again”.
One of the largest mistakes the federation made was not performing an inspection of the field ahead of time. Gulati acknowledged that out of the 10 stadiums being used for the USWNT victory tour, Honolulu was the only facility that was not inspected, adding that the cancelation was “absolutely a black eye for this organization”.
This “black eye” of a mistake echoes an issue that was prevalent prior to the start of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Many athletes took issue with the fact that while their male counterparts play on grass, the women’s tournament was solely held on turf fields. Even Abby Wambach notably said how she was hesitant to commit to headers on turf whereas on grass she tended to play more carefree.
For the USWNT it’s more than just an issue about grass vs. turf, it’s an issue about equality, and an issue that goalkeeper Hope Solo voiced on her Twitter account.
The USWNT still have three dates left in December for their victory tour, including another match against Trinidad & Tobago on December 10th in San Antonio, Texas.