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USMNT Players Association opposed to friendly at Nippert Stadium

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Players have concerns about the stadium’s playing surface

Portland Timbers v FC Cincinnati Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The US National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA) recently released a statement regarding its opposition to playing a June 9 Pre-Gold Cup friendly against Venezuela at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Nippert Stadium is home to MLS expansion side FC Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati’s football team.

Along with its statement, USNSTPA released an April 2 email it sent to U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, asking that no United States Men’s National Team matches be played on sod (grass) that is laid on top of artificial turf.

The Players Association wrote that it was told by “sources outside the Federation” that U.S. Soccer plans on placing a temporary sod surface on top of the stadium’s artificial turf, for the friendly against Venezuela.

USNSTPA indicated that U.S. Soccer’s legal counsel responded to its email on April 8, telling the Players Association that the friendly will take place at Nippert Stadium as scheduled. Ahead of FCC’s 2019 MLS debut season, it replaced the stadium’s turf.

Despite the new playing surface, the USNSTPA indicated that it “is opposed to playing any game on sod placed atop artificial surfaces.” It cited concerns about “substantially increased risk of play injury” as one of the primary reasons for objecting to playing on such a surface.

The Players Association also wrote:

We do not know if the decisions about field selection are being made to reward MLS owners or to seek a venue where fans have been supporting their MLS team in significant numbers, but it appears that either some sort of economic motivation or a deal with MLS or a lack of understanding of the many problems associated with sod on an artificial surface, or some combination of those factors has led to this decision.

The USMNT is expected to play Jamaica at Audi Field on June 4 in its first Pre-Gold Cup friendly but this match has yet to be officially confirmed.

In 2015, the United States Women’s National Team refused to play a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago due to safety concerns regarding the artificial turf at the University of Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium. However, in 2017 the USWNT beat New Zealand 5-0 in a friendly at Nippert Stadium.

Should the USMNT and USWNT play games on grass laid over artificial turf?