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Dec. 7, 2015 — The wrong fight at the wrong time

Yesterday, the U.S. Soccer Federation called off one of its “Victory Tour” games involving the World Cup Champion women’s national team when it became clear that the playing surface on the floor of Aloha Stadium wasn’t in the best condition.

Indeed, the seams were coming apart and the artificial grass surface was a few years old. And there was concern within the U.S. camp about the health and well-being of its players after a training injury (on a grass pitch) to midfielder Megan Rapinoe.

But what I have a problem with are statements out of the U.S. women’s national team about equity and safety when it comes to artificial grass surfaces. The national team has been pretty much on a year-long crusade against artificial grass ever since it came to light that the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup was going to be played on it.

Well, the Americans won on it.

And the thing is, the U.S. team agreed play to a 10-game tour across the U.S. after the World Cup, with a number of games on artificial grass.

If there’s anyone to blame for this mess, however, it’s U.S. Soccer. It is mind-boggling that, in this era where the world-championship team is your biggest single asset, that nobody — nobody! — acted as an advance team to scope the site for poor field conditions.

Meanwhile, as all this has been going on in Hawaii, the CONCACAF U-20 women’s championship — a qualifier for the U-20 Women’s World Cup — had to be postponed a day because of unplayable grounds. Heavy rains in Honduras have rendered the main ground in San Pedro Sula too waterlogged for play.

And this wouldn’t have happened if the tournament was played on artificial grass, which drains incredibly quickly if the pitch is designed correctly.

Thing is, the kerfuffle over artificial grass is coming at a time when FIFA and other world governing bodies of soccer are looking to play tournaments in areas of the world such as central America, northern Africa, and southeast Asia where there are significant rainy seasons due to climate change. As such, artificial grass pitches are vital to these tournaments finishing on schedule.

And, I think, here to stay.

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