BRITISH COLUMBIA

Christine Sinclair and teammates refuse to get involved in World Cup turf war

10/27/2014 05:28 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST
VANCOUVER - Canada's women's soccer team is refusing to get involved in the turf war surrounding the 2015 Women's World Cup.

Earlier this month, a coalition of international star players, including Abby Wambach of the U.S. and Marta of Brazil, filed legal action with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal seeking to have games played on grass rather than artificial turf.

The women are alleging discrimination, arguing that the men would never play their World Cup on an artificial surface.

"Honestly, it personally doesn't affect me, and I don't think it affects anyone on the team," veteran Canadian striker Melissa Tancredi said Monday. "I know that we have something special here, and all that external stuff is happening, and that's fine.

"It has nothing to do with us. We just know that we're here to perform. Whatever surface you give us, we're going to perform."

Tancredi made the comments as the Canadian women's side prepared to meet Japan in an international friendly Tuesday on artificial turf at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver. The game serves as part of preparations for the 2015 Women's World Cup that Canada will host next summer.

"I think it's personal preference and people being angry and having different agendas — and that has nothing to do with what we stand for," said Tancredi. "I don't want to get involved. I don't think any of us want to get involved."

The Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA, the sports world governing body, have refused to budge on the issue.

"Everyone would love to play on grass, but it's not our focus," said Canadian captain Christine Sinclair. "We'll let other people worry about the surface, and we'll prepare for the tournament. As a Canadian, it's an honour to have the World Cup in Canada and we want to do well in it."

Lawyers for the women say their plan for temporary grass surfaces at stadiums in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton would cost $2 million to $3 million at most.

Sinclair said she is not in a position to judge.

"I have no idea," she said. "All we know is that the World Cup was given to Canada on the basis of it being (played) on turf — and we're preparing for such."