June 14, 2021

U.S. women’s soccer team still second-class after World Cup win

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MOrgan-640x360By Sam Laird From Mashable

Five months after they won the World Cup and were feted with a parade down Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes, the U.S. women’s national team still can’t get a proper pitch to play on.

Over the past week, the U.S. women’s soccer team has lost star midfielder Megan Rapinoe to serious injury under arguably preventable conditions, had to cancel a match in Hawaii because of a crappy field and had to prepare for another match in a stadium that had a natural playing surface installed for a recent men’s game…but won’t for the women.

Rapinoe-640x360This is the greatest women’s soccer team on Earth, fresh off a world championship — and they’re being forced to scrimp and scramble like a church-league squad on a shoestring budget.

U.S. Soccer announced this weekend that Sunday’s friendly match against Trinidad & Tobago in Honolulu had been canceled because the artificial turf playing surface at Aloha Stadium was “not suitable to hold an international soccer match.” Days earlier, Megan Rapinoe, who is one of the team’s biggest names and best players, tore her ACL while practicing on a grass field in Hawaii that team personnel criticized as substandard.

“The training grounds that we were given and the playing surface of the stadium were horrible,” forward Alex soccerthumbMorgan said Saturday. “I think it’s hard because no one’s really going to protect us but ourselves. So we’re put in a very hard position, because obviously we want to play in front of these fans and we want to train before the game, but injuries happen when you don’t protect yourself and when you’re not protected from those higher up from you.”

Those are strong words from Morgan — and criticism well deserved by U.S. Soccer executives charged with ensuring the safety, dignity and equal treatment of the women’s national team.

A clear double standard

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 4.19.10 PMThe team’s next game after the canceled match against Trinidad & Tobago is scheduled for Thursday in San Antonio. It’s supposed to be played at the Alamodome, on an artificial turf surface installed in September 2014. As pointed out by Deadspin, this is interesting for two reasons.

The last time the U.S. women’s team played at the Alamodome — against Australia in 2013 on the facility’s previous artificial turf surface — Australian forward Kyah Simon tore her ACL on a non-contact play.

When the U.S. men’s team last played at the Alamodome, this April, a fresh sod surface was installed over the artificial turf. At the time of this writing, no such plans had been announced for Thursday’s women’s game.

Goalkeeper Hope Solo tweeted Thursday to thank fans for their support, and to show an example of the types of shoddy surfaces that have players upset.

Midfielder Carli Lloyd — the hero of the World Cup Final — tweeted Saturday that she is “so over the turf.” Lloyd also noted that eight of the 10 matches on the team’s national “victory tour” of celebratory friendlies have been scheduled for venues with artificial surfaces.

Perhaps most frustrating for players and supporters of women’s soccer: This is far from a new problem. The 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada was the first senior-level FIFA tournament to be played on artificial turf surfaces, despite organized and vociferous objection from many of the world’s top players. Players say turf is less forgiving on slides and falls, and makes it harder to pass and follow the trajectory of the ball.

The U.S. women won that tournament on those sub-standard surfaces. Unfortunately, the following tour — meant to honor the squad — has also served as a reminder that success and praise don’t equal fair treatment on the field. It’s an embarrassment for all involved.

Morgan Alex Morgan and others are fed up for good reason. IMAGE: SCOTT DONALDSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rapinoe Megan Rapinoe is now out with a torn ACL. IMAGE: MICHAEL WADE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
All we got is us: Carli Lloyd, left, celebrates with teammates at the 2015 World Cup. IMAGE: CARMEN JASPERSEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

For more on this story go to: http://mashable.com/2015/12/07/us-womens-soccer-team-turf/?utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher#2r1xxrlKIGqK

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