They won’t make men play on it. No major men’s soccer tournament has ever been played on artificial turf, where bloody burns and temperatures over 100 degrees regularly impact players’ health. But the 2015 Women’s World Cup will be played entirely on the stuff–and players like Abby Wambach are calling out gender bias. But is this a case of environmental injustice, as well?
The problem of artificial turf and the 2015 Women’s World Cup is–as Abby Wambach asserts–a problem of gender bias. But is it a case of environmental injustice as well? Last year, Wambach joined players from Germany, Brazil and Spain in a legal attempt to force FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association to outfit arenas with natural grass–the lawsuit was later dropped.
In a recent interview for NBC news, the star forward described the “nightmare” of playing on the artificial grass in Winnipeg Stadium, where temperatures reportedly reached 130 degrees.
The non-profit Environmental and Human Health has long detailed the dangers of artificial turf, which is becoming more popular as the Southwest states experience severe drought. Carcinogenic chemicals have been found in the infill–typically “crumb rubber” from ground-up car tires–that forms the base for the grass.
Meanwhile, the Synthetic Tuft Council maintains that artificial turf is safe; former FIFA President Sepp Blatter has suggested that female players wear tighter shorts to remedy the problem.
Obviously this is–as Wambach asserts–a problem of gender bias. But is it a case of environmental injustice as well? Defined by the EPA, environmental justice is:
The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin [in which] everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts, in comments below.