It’s pretty well known FIFA isn’t exactly leading from the front when it comes to gender equality. But, even by the global soccer governing body’s standards, this summer’s Women’s World Cup was shaping up to be a bit of a nightmare—complete with a lawsuit filed by 84 players against FIFA and the host nation’s Canadian Soccer Association claiming gender discrimination. The core dispute brought forth by the players—including the sport’s biggest female stars—was the use of artificial turf for the event, rather than natural grass. The surface, they say, is more dangerous for players and would never be allowed during the men’s version of the tournament.
On Wednesday, however, the players dropped the discrimination suit against the tournament's organizing bodies. FIFA, for its part, refused to budge on the field surfaces and hardly improved its image as a friend of the women’s game. Here’s more from the women’s soccer news site the Equalizer:
Players were denied an expedited hearing on the case—which was needed since the World Cup kicks off on June 6—and the Canadian Soccer Association rejected the Tribunal’s proposal for mediation. FIFA continually rejected to acknowledge the legal battle, saying it hadn’t been properly served papers. In December, before the World Cup draw, FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke became visibly heated in a press conference, calling claims of discrimination “nonsense.”
"Our legal action has ended," U.S. star Abby Wambach said in a statement. "But I am hopeful that the players' willingness to contest the unequal playing fields—and the tremendous public support we received during the effort—makes the start of even greater activism to ensure fair treatment when it comes to women's sports."