Oh FIFA, the gift that keeps on making us shake our heads in shame and disbelief.
Let’s just say the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada hasn’t exactly gone off without a hitch. There were threats of a boycott after FIFA decided that they would allow artificial turf fields to be used in all six of the venues set to host matches this summer.
Many players haven’t been happy with the decision to stick with artificial surfaces, especially since it wouldn’t fly for play in the men’s World Cup on any level. Still, those please went unanswered and in January the final verdict came down against the protests for replacing those fields with real grass.
However, one of the biggest names in the sport isn’t letting this matter go. USWNT star Abby Wambach revealed that FIFA actually had an offer to take care of this issue for free and refused it.
According to the report, Wambach has information about companies coming forward to offer to pay for the replacement of the artificial turf at all six venues.
“There were companies (that) offered to pay for these grass fields to be put into these stadiums… They offered FIFA, offered the Canadian Soccer Association to do it for free (in) all the stadiums,” the 34-year-old forward told ESPN’s Julie Foudy in a video interview posted to ESPNW on Wednesday. “To me, it wasn’t about that there was grass or no grass, it was about FIFA not wanting to do anything that anybody else wanted except them wanting to do what they wanted to do.”
Most daming is that it appears FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke was the one who stuck his head in the sand and refused to do anything about it.
Then again, should any of this be surprising? You know, considering FIFA has done this at all levels of the corruption scandals for the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cups. Oh, and then continuing to look the other way as migrant workers continue to die in squaller and basic indentured servitude in Qatar.
Let’s just say that FIFA admitting they were wrong and doing something to correct it may take an act of God. Either that or the continuing black eye over the perception that equal treatment isn’t given, because apparently Vlacke has given Wambach word that this type of set up will never happen again.
“[Valcke] assured us that the Women’s World Cup would never be played on turf again. He gave me his word, which for me, that’s a win,” Wambach said. “For me, that’s progress.”
While Wambach may believe Valcke, we’ve seen FIFA say and do just about anything they want to do. Until there is something in writing and the rules that govern future Women’s World Cups, then we’re not inclined to believe a thing that anyone at the organization says.