- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Canadian Soccer Association maintains the artificial turf that will be used at the 2015 Women’s World Cup is first class and that a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by several players over the surface has no merit.

The CSA filed a response to the players’ complaint late last week with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The governing body for soccer in Canada opposes the players’ request for an expedited hearing on the matter.

A group of international players led by U.S. star Abby Wambach filed the complaint earlier this month. They claim the game is inherently different on artificial turf because of how the ball moves and how the players react, but the overriding issue is that the men’s World Cup is always staged on grass.

In a conference call Wednesday, attorney Sean Hern and CSA President Victor Montagliani disputed several aspects of the claim, including the Ontario tribunal’s jurisdiction over the other cities hosting World Cup matches.

“The core issue in terms of the claim that’s been advanced is that FIFA 2-star turf is somehow second class. It is a first-class playing field. It is part of the Canadian game. It has been recognized as appropriate,” Hern said. “This is going to be a fantastic playing surface and a fantastic tournament. There’s no merit, in our view, at the suggestion that it is in any way discriminatory.”

The players involved in the complaint say they will not boycott the event if it goes forward on artificial turf.

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