The rest of the world can have the NBA and NHL Finals, because I want to talk turkey (actually, that’s my other blog)–specifically soccer turkey in the form of next year’s world cup. You know: the one played on stadium sized fields, with regulation sized balls, but by humans that aren’t men (read: the ladies). The World Cup that has, for some time, been ticking off a number of highly visible players from around the globe, specifically because of host country Canada’s curiously frugal choice to stick with artificial turf instead of installing real grass.
The advantages of using grass are nearly limitless (safer for players, cool jersey stains), and yet player-advocates seem to be hollering into the middle of a wind tunnel buried somewhere in the center of Earth’s core which can only be accessed by way of Mordor. Particularly disappointing (though not surprising given its “leadership”) has been the lack of pressure from FIFA to upgrade the fields in time for 2015.
Despite the popularity of the 2011 WWC, and the crazy addictive games of the 2012 Olympics (the Women’s final was the most-watched event in the history of NBC Sports), the 2015 WWC only attracted two bidders–the aforementioned neighbors to the north, and Zimbabwe. (To compare, the 2011 WWC had six bidders.) Perhaps Canada, who won the bid in March of 2011, thought they were getting a bargain. The 2007 World Cup proved to be significantly less monumental than the ’99 tournament, and 2003 was a bit of an organizational nightmare, as the US scrambled to replaced original host China after that whole SARS scare. But then 2011 happened, and the world watched. And 2012 happened and the world tweeted. And maybe if you’re Canada you’re thinking “We don’t have time to fix our fields any more,” or, more likely “We thought no one would care.”
Look. I get it, Canada. You want to save a few bucks. But there are lots of ways to save money without cutting corners. For example, I buy cheese in blocks instead of pre-sliced (for more info on that, check out my cheese blog).
So, here’s my pitch to FIFA: let Zimbabwe host. Sure, they were never gonna get the bid thanks to corruption allegations, but since when has FIFA been preoccupied with rules or their enforcement? If anything, the signal FIFA is sending is that you’re not legitimate until fraudulent markets decide you’re worth exploiting. Luckily, women are great at being exploited! Players could even get in on the betting. And then maybe they could buy Canada some real grass.