FIFA rules out artificial pitches for Women’s 2023 World Cup bidders

March 22 – FIFA has moved to prevent the use of artificial pitches at the 2023 Women’s World Cup after the 2015 tournament in Canada was marred by controversy over artificial turf. 

The new requirement was sent to the nations who haves expressed an interest in staging the 2023 tournament, according to the AP. FIFA received a record interest from nine football federations, including a joint Korean one, to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Canada staged the 2015 edition of the tournament and it was the first World Cup for either men or women to be played on artificial turf. All of the tournament’s six venues had artificial turf or elements of it and players argued that the pitches carried a higher risk of injuries.

More than 50 players filed a lawsuit against FIFA on the basis of gender discrimination, but the case, claiming that the world governing body would never allow the men’s World Cup to be played on ‘unsafe’ artificial turf, was later withdrawn.

This summer France will stage the Women’s World Cup and all of the nine venues will feature natural pitches. For the next tournament FIFA has explicitly ruled out the use of artificial pitches. “The pitch shall feature a natural grass playing surface,” FIFA’s bidding requirements state. “Hybrid-grass systems are considered natural grass according to FIFA’s requirements and hybrid reinforcement should be considered for stadium pitches.”

The requirement also extends to training grounds, demanding that there’d be at least one grass field at training complexes.

Interested nations must submit a bid book by October 4. The FIFA Council will award the hosting rights in March 2020 following the evaluation reports by inspectors, who will grade the infrastructure and commercial aspects of the bids. “The scores received may have a bearing on whether or not the bid is eligible for consideration by, or presentation to, the FIFA Council,” the bidding documents state. “FIFA reserves the right to deem the bid ineligible on the basis that a bid does not achieve the minimum scores” of 2.0 for the overall mark, or stadiums, accommodation and facilities for teams and referees.”

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1574167657labto1574167657ofdlr1574167657owedi1574167657sni@o1574167657fni1574167657