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What's Happening To Players At The Women's World Cup, Where The Artificial Turf Is 120 Degrees

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After Sunday’s Norway vs. Thailand game, Norway midfielder Lene Mykjåland voiced her discontent about the short, dry turf, which she said made it difficult for either team to “get a decent tempo and rhythm.” The playing surface was watered using two fire hoses instead of the standard sprinkler system.

When the tournament kicked off Saturday, the temperature of the playing surface was reportedly120 degrees, despite the fact that it was a pleasant 75 degrees that day in Edmonton. That’s because artificial turf, a combination of rubber and plastic, gets a lot hotter than natural grass. Natural grass, on average, stays 20-30 degrees cooler than its artificial counterpart.

This comes after a lawsuit challenging FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association’s decision to keep artificial turf for the tournament. Though the complaint, which was supported by high profile national players, was withdrawn in January 2015, concerns remain about the safety hazards of playing on turf and the gender discrimination that may have been behind the decision.

The turf temperature on Saturday was just two degrees below what’s considered “unsafe for sustained use by trained athletes,” according to a study cited by the Las Vegas Sun.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that playing on turf results in more fatigue and injuries than on natural grass.

This will be especially true when high turf temperatures could cause heat radiation to tire players more quickly than natural grass would. A 2006 survey found that 74 percent of NFL players felt artificial turf was responsible for more fatigue than grass. The turf will be the medical team’s primary concern in the tournament, Dr. Bojan Žorić told Sports Illustrated.

I wonder why they withdrew the complaint in January. 

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