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Coach says Canadian women have made artificial turf a World Cup advantage

12/04/2014 03:18 EST | Updated 02/03/2015 05:59 EST
While some denigrate the use of artificial turf at the Women's World Cup, Canadian coach John Herdman pragmatically sees it as an advantage.

The Canadian women have stayed out of the fray, for the most part. Players behind a legal challenge surrounding the artificial surface elected not to involve the Canadians given that the Canadian Soccer Association doubles as the 2015 tournament's organizing committee.

Herdman says he and his staff have tried to keep the chatter about the legal challenge out of sight and out of mind.

"I think we've had to position it like that," he said in an interview. "I mean look, in Canada a lot of these players (in) North America are used to playing on turf so it won't be a major shock. Because pretty much all our home matches over the last two years have been on turf.

"So it's not a shock. It's a consistent surface for our players. There are definite pros of doing it. There are also cons in many people's mind. But I think what's been great about our players (is) they just accepted the challenge and said 'Look, we'll become turf experts. We'll become experts at playing on turf and we'll use that as one of our home advantages' over the opponents who may have a mindset and be stuck on other things.'"

The lawyer for the women challenging artificial turf kept the pressure up Thursday ahead of Saturday's tournament draw by releasing another letter to FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke.

Unable to get the FIFA executive to talk to players via a conference call around the draw, lawyer Hampton Dellinger sent a "Top 10 list of pressing questions to which the players and public deserve answers."

No. 3 reads "How can you justify playing the World Cup final at Vancouver's B.C. Place on a surface that players have likened to concrete?"

The letter also questions the credentials and connections of FIFA consultants and experts as well as the difference between prize money at the men's and women's tournaments.

A group of top female players has filed a challenge in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, arguing that playing on artificial turf at the Women's World Cup is discriminatory because the men play their showcase tournament on grass.

FIFA argues that the laws of the game permit artificial turf as long as they meet standards and that such surfaces makes sense for the Canadian climate.

Valcke has also gone on record saying that a men's World Cup could be held on turf "sooner rather than later."

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