Monday, June 08, 2015

The Women's World Cup in Soccer. Sod It?

I'm exceeding myself in stupid headlines.  The reference to "sod" is meant to capture the flavor of a complaint from one player in the cup:

The Women’s World Cup got underway over the weekend and while excitement was high after host country Canada’s thrilling win over China in stoppage time, the start of play has renewed frustrations over the controversial decision to force the women to play on artificial turf in all six venues.
After Sunday’s Norway vs. Thailand game, Norway midfielder Lene Mykjåland voiced her discontent about the short, dry turf, which she said made it difficult for either team to “get a decent tempo and rhythm.” The playing surface was watered using two fire hoses instead of the standard sprinkler system.
When the tournament kicked off Saturday, the temperature of the playing surface was reportedly 120 degrees, despite the fact that it was a pleasant 75 degrees that day in Edmonton. That’s because artificial turf, a combination of rubber and plastic, gets a lot hotter than natural grass. Natural grass, on average, stays 20-30 degrees cooler than its artificial counterpart.
The linked article suggests that on Saturday the temperature of the turf in Edmonton was only a few degrees below the level regarded as unsafe for players, and anecdotal evidence hints that artificial turf makes the game less interesting to watch and possibly more dangerous for the players.  Not a welcoming mix to the participants in the women's World Cup,

Here's the interesting point:  This is the first soccer World Cup which is played on artificial turf.  Does this have any connection to the fact that it's women playing?

That's one of those questions which cannot be answered without detailed data on what went on when the decision was being made.  I think it's unlikely that anyone chose artificial turf to consciously make the women's games look less interesting. 

But that doesn't mean that the idea of saving money wouldn't have looked a lot more doable when the world cup was about women rather than about men.  Men would complain, their many, many fans would complain.  Perhaps the decision-makers were betting that us girls would not?