Jo-Anne Pickel

Expedited hearing rejected in Women’s World Cup turf battle

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Players’ request for an expedited hearing in their battle against artificial turf at the 2015 Women’s World Cup has been rejected, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario announced Friday. The HRTO offered mediation in the process, but the Canadian Soccer Association said it is not willing to participate.

About a month ago, the players brought their case to court and argued that the lack of action to ensure players’ safety on grass breached gender equality laws.

“Given the jurisdictional complexity of this case, I am far from certain that it would be possible to … render a decision on the merits within a few months,” vice chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Jo-Anne Pickel wrote.

Earlier in the day a group of thirteen US senators wrote to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and US Soccer president Sunil Gulati to express their disapproval of turf at the competition, as all six fields where games will be held have artificial turf.

The upcoming 2015 tournament would mark the first non-grass World Cup for both men and women.

“Today’s decision paves the way for immediate mediation of the dispute,” lead attorney Hampton Dellinger said to ESPN. “We trust FIFA will join, as well, and we look forward to the talks beginning soon.”

The CSA denied the gender-based accusations against them, arguing that synthetic surfaces were merely a piece of the most suitable venues in Canada. And they also claimed that inserting a new grass surface would conflict with the multi-purpose nature of the stadiums.

“The use of natural grass in Canadian stadia would not be possible given that these venues are multi-use venues,” the filing says. “Installation of natural grass surfaces would not be compatible with the needs of other users, such as the Canadian Football League, who plays on turf.”

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