What. The top women’s soccer teams in the world are being forced to play on artificial turf for what looks like the majority of the WWC 2015. Ha, that’s funny, right? No, it’s not funny because it’s not a joke. It was revealed yesterday that tournament host Canada would have most of the games will be played on turf throughout the tournament.
Any soccer player, no, any athlete knows that turf does not begin to compare to natural grass. If you were to enter a room with 10 athletes from soccer, football, baseball, whatever sport, I guarantee every single one of them would raise their hand if you were to say, “Who enjoys playing on grass more than turf?”
Turf essentially changes the integrity of the game. Turf results in a different speed of play. Sure, touches might be smoother and there are no odd bumps on the field, but that doesn’t mean it’s a better surface than grass. Speed of play might be the least of the concerns as we look at the likelihood of injuries.
Turf causes serious burns if one goes in for a tackle or falls down. This happens repeatedly throughout a game of soccer as it is a physical sport and requires players to get “down and dirty”. These burns could easily lead to infection.
Secondly, injuries can get as severe as head and ACL injuries. There is a lot of falling down in soccer and I’m sure the last thing any team wants is one of the players to slam their head on the hard turf. Once a player steps on an artificial turf field, they are now prone to concussions when their head hits the ground.
Not only are concussions a major issue, the longevity of an ACL injury that could occur is also concerning. Turf is soft and can cause athlete’s ankles and knees to twist and torque repeatedly. Since the players are wearing cleats, turf “catches” the spikes and causes rotating to be more difficult and strenuous on the knee.
Lastly, one last concern is the temperature that turf can reach. According to livestrong.com, a test by a turf expert at the University of Missouri showed that on a 98 degree day, turf can reach up to 173 degrees. Now, when I looked at the venues, most are open roofed. When games are being played during a summer day, the heat that the players feel on the field will cause dehydration and fatigue during the most important sporting event of their careers.
These are not international friendly games. These are games to become a world champion. Someone needs to step in. I’m sure nobody wants to watch these games and hope that one of the players doesn’t get injured. These are the top women’s soccer teams in the world. Asking them to play on artificial turf is not only disrespectful to them, but it is dishonorable to soccer. This tournament is the moment athletes work for; they go all out for 4 years and when it comes time to finally play, the last thing they should have to worry about is the field.