The upcoming Women’s World Cup in Canada will be played entirely on synthetic turf despite more than 60 international soccer players filing a gender discrimination lawsuit that was eventually dropped. Abby Wambach recently revealed to ESPN that FIFA turned down the opportunity to have all six fields transitioned into natural grass at no cost.
The company Wambach says wanted to take on the project was Scotts Miracle-Gro. The company reached out to FIFA last fall to see if it could help by investing $3 million of its own money to make the change from synthetic turf to grass, Scotts told USA Today Sports.
“It’s by no means a very simple process, but it’s something we felt was important enough to help that we were willing to make the investment,” Mark Slavens, Scotts’ vice president of environmental affairs, told USA Today Sports. “The reason we did this is there are a lot of benefits to being on natural turf vs. synthetic turf that we felt were important enough that we needed to engage and help the players.”
Scotts says it was unable to talk directly to FIFA but communicated through an intermediary and heard through the news media that FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association would not change their minds.
In a statement to USA Today Sports, FIFA confirmed it was contacted by companies with proposals to replace the turf with natural grass: “The contact was informal and didn’t include any range of price for any service. The proposals were for the official stadia only and not for the various training sites (18 in total) to allow the players to train on a consistent surface throughout the tournament.”
Wambach told ESPN’s Julie Foudy that FIFA rejected the offers because the synthetic turf fields were part of Canada’s initial bid for the tournament and the association wanted to honor the bid.