On the eve of Women's World Cup, there's an issue with the turf in the most important stadium

SoccerUSA Today SportsThe new turf at BC Place Stadium has only been used once.

With 24 hours to go before the start of the Women’s World Cup in Canada, there are still major concerns for the highly-controversial turf being used at one of the key stadiums.

Prior to the start of the World Cup, organisers upgraded the artificial turf at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, which will host nine matches, including the final on July 5. The early indications are that the turf will eventually be great, but it’s unclear if it will be fully broken in in time for the tournament.

The installation of the turf was completed just one week before the start of the World Cup. The problem is, according to the company that makes the turf, it takes 6-10 weeks to properly break it in, as reported by News 1130 in Vancouver.

One FIFA official says the break-in process has been accelerated, and he thinks it will be fine.

“It’s been an aggressive schedule this week but we’re confident we’ll be ready to go,” FIFA’s Don Hardman told the media. “Working on compaction and working on some of the testing methods to ensure the criteria and it involves a series of increased maintenance schedule. Working on compacting the turf with some rolling machines, things like that to really accelerate the break-in process.”

When BC Place hosts its first World Cup match on Monday, it will be just the second match played on the turf. The first came last weekend when the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS hosted Real Salt Lake. After that game, the players were less than pleased with the playing surface.

“Slippery for sure, you saw all the guys slipping out there,” Nick Rimando of RSL told the media after the game.

Another big issue is that the filler used to cushion the turf, sand and tiny pieces of rubber, is so new that it hasn’t been compacted or settled yet.

“I wasn’t a fan,” Rimando continued. “Every time the ball comes, the sand gets in your eye and rubber gets everywhere. You saw, [sand is] all over everybody’s feet and legs.”

In addition, the players were left covered in a residue of dust and shoes and legs were covered in a green residue.

SoccerReutersShoes in a recent MLS match were left covered in dust and residue.

The reason the turf wasn’t installed earlier was due to other commitments at the stadium.

“Part of it was timing,” Hardman told the media. “This is a very busy building between the trade show in the offseason and the MLS schedule. We had a window of opportunity in May and we made the best efforts we could.”

Abby Wambach led a group of players who sued FIFA over the playing surfaces.ReutersAbby Wambach (R) led a group of players who sued FIFA over the playing surfaces.

This is just the latest problem for the World Cup and its playing surfaces. Prior to the tournament, a group of players filed a sexual discrimination suit against FIFA for their decision to play the World Cup on artificial turf instead of the natural grass used during the men’s tournament. The suit was later dropped when it became clear it would not be resolved prior to the start of the World Cup.

Whether the new turf at BC Place Stadium will be ready for Monday’s match, or more importantly, for the final in four weeks, remains to be seen. But if it is not, you can be sure the players will not be happy.

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