24 Hours: Soccer star wants equal fields for women

24 hours


By Patrick Colvin
Thursday, October 23, 2014 5:38:51 PDT PM

If they thought it (artificial turf) was the best conditions to play on, why aren’t they asking the men to play on those conditions? — Coun. Adriane Carr

The first woman inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame is weighing in on the controversial decision to use artificial turf in Vancouver during the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Carrie Serwetnyk is a former Canadian national player and the founder of Equal Play FC, an organization that works to give female soccer players the same opportunities as men.

But despite her status as a former player trying to bring equality rights to soccer, she is surprised at the resistance she’s faced from both FIFA and Canadian officials.

“It’s amazing the resistance I’ve had from this,” said Serwetnyk. “I thought that we need to address [gender inequality]. (FIFA sent) me a letter that I was a threat to the marketplace because I was trying to gain sponsorship dollars to do some girls programs.”

The Kitsilano woman had another negative experience when she was contacted by a Canadian soccer official regarding an idea she had to create a program for aboriginal girls.

She was allegedly told, “We’re going to say all sorts of bad things about you to everyone you’ve already talked to, politicians or any kind of corporations that you’re trying to get sponsorship [from], and we’re just going to essentially undermine you, and to say that you’re just doing this for the money.”

Far from being deterred, Serwetnyk decided to bring the issue of artificial turf being used in the 2015 Women’s FIFA World Cup to her Equal Play FC colleague and city Coun. Adriane Carr.

Carr has since put forward a motion, to be voted on by city council Oct. 28, to have the city pay for a grass field for FIFA’s female athletes at an estimated cost of $250,000.

The Green Party councillor hopes that if Vancouver sets an example by purchasing grass for their FIFA location then other Canadian host cities will follow suit.

This issue of safety and gender inequality in regards to artificial turf is a battle also being waged by a group of elite female soccer players from around the world, who are suing FIFA and the CSA.

“I’ve been in contact with the lawyer who is representing the 18 elite women players who are suing,” said Carr.

“He indicated that they will be putting forward a brief to council on this – that Vancouver taking the lead could help that court case and help require the CSA and FIFA to require grass fields.”

Amongst all this backlash, FIFA released a report Thursday by independent consultant Eric Harrison, which seeks to explain and justify the use of artificial turf as a safer and more practical choice for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

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