This Saturday, the globe will once again turn its head to a FIFA World Cup.
The U.S. women’s national team, which boasts a world No. 2 ranking, is looking for revenge.
In 2011, the U.S. team finished second behind Japan in a thriller of a game. The stars-and-stripes fell 3-1 in penalty kicks following a 2-2 tie after regulation and extra time.
On Monday, the United States will take the field as it faces Australia in Group D play.
The U.S. has a good chance at making it far as they look for their first cup since 1999.
But, like every other FIFA-related event, this World Cup is under severe scrutiny.
If you read my previous column on FIFA, which ran about a month ago, you can fully understand my distaste for the megalomaniac-run, money-grabbing organization.
This World Cup, which will be conducted in Canada, will be played on turf fields: The first time in men’s or women’s tournament history that will be the case.
In October, U.S. captain Abby Wambach, along with a group of international soccer players, filed a lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association.
The group claimed that there was gender discrimination in the decision to play on artificial turf.
Despite their anger, the group failed to get the decision repealed.
In January, the suit was dropped.
While the footballers couldn’t get the changes made, they’re still furious and will begrudgingly play on the rubber.
This isn’t just an issue about the possibility of gender discrimination but also the increased chance of injuries.
Playing on turf increases the chance of injury, mostly because of the factor of turf burn.
If you have the stomach, look up turf burn regarding professional soccer games. It’s quite unpleasant.
Any soccer player also would agree that playing on grass versus turf is night and day.
You won’t see as many players sliding for balls in this World Cup, a part of the game that significantly alters play — especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The ball also will move much quicker on turf compared to grass.
There will be less long balls, as the turf will make the likelihood of balls rolling out of bounds greater.
Based on data from Major League Soccer, compiled by ESPN, “the biggest differences between games played on turf and grass are the percentage of passes completed, particularly on long balls, and chances created in the game.”
There wasn’t enough data on professional women’s soccer regarding the issue, so the MLS was the next best comparison.
All things aside, every team will have to adapt to the turf. So that excuse will only fly so far.
However, I agree with Wambach that discrimination might have played suit.
The chance of a men’s World Cup being played on turf are zero. It will never happen, there would be an uprising unlike the Cup has ever seen.
Swiss FIFA president Sepp Blatter has made outlandish statements regarding women’s soccer in the past.
Back in 2004, Blatter made suggestions to boost the following of women’s soccer by increasing sex appeal.
“They could, for example, have tighter shorts,” Blatter told the media. “Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men — such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?”
Oh, and Blatter isn’t going anywhere.
This past week he was re-elected to his position despite a number of his cronies getting arrested for corruption.
It’s a Godfather complex, and Blatter is Vito Corleone.
Straight from the horse’s mouth.
“I consider myself a little bit as a godfather of the organization of women’s football in FIFA,” Blatter recently stated.
The first Women’s World Cup was in 1991, and Blatter was a part of the group that made it happen.
While he did play a part, his mentality is off the wall.
Jordan Morey is the sports editor for The Tribune. Send comments to email@example.com.