Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Human Rights Tribunal Rules Artificial Turf Challenge Can Continue

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Human Rights Tribunal Rules Artificial Turf Challenge Can Continue

Article excerpt

Tribunal rules turf challenge can continue

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TORONTO - There was a win and loss Monday for both sides in the legal challenge of artificial turf at next year's Women's World Cup.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, in an interim ruling, denied the players' request that their request for an expedited hearing -- which had previously been turned down -- be reconsidered.

But vice-chair Jo-Anne Pickel also rejected FIFA's argument that, under international law, it had not received "effective legal notice" of the proceedings. In so doing, the tribunal ruled that the legal challenge can proceed.

The players allege that having the women play on artificial turf is discriminatory because the men play their showcase tournament on natural grass.

FIFA argues that the laws of the game permit use of artificial turf as long as it meets standards and that the surface makes sense for the Canadian climate. And rather than discriminate against women, the world governing body of soccer has spent years working to grow the women's side of the game.

After receiving the original case material and notice from the Ontario tribunal, FIFA argued that the procedure for delivery had not met relevant international treaties.

Pickel disagreed.

"In the circumstances of this case, I find that FIFA has received effective legal notice of this proceeding," she wrote in Monday's 14-page decision. "I also find that all documents so far delivered in this case have been properly delivered in accordance with the Tribunal's rules and all applicable law."

"FIFA's effort to evade the jurisdiction of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has failed," said Hampton Dellinger, lawyer for the players.

But with the tournament less than six months away, time is on the side of FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Assocoation, which doubles as the World Cup's national organizing committee. …

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