Image: Stew Milne

Image: Stew Milne

Laken Litman, USA Today, October 15, 2014


Morgan is one of 40-plus international soccer stars who have filed a lawsuit against FIFA and the CSA, claiming gender discrimination since the men's World Cup is always played on grass. She passionately decided to get involved in the movement for health reasons.

"Not only are they long lasting injuries, but there are long-term effects of playing on turf," the 25-year-old forward for the U.S. national team says. "The achiness, taking longer to recover than on natural grass, the tendons and ligaments are, for me at least, I feel more sore after turf. It takes longer to recover from a turf field than natural grass."

"If you make it to the final, that's seven games in one month," she says of the World Cup. "That's a lot of games for players to be playing on turf. So it's a huge difference for our bodies to adjust to.

"If the men's World Cup didn't allow it, and they built brand new stadiums—not even put in grass fields, they built brand new stadiums with a couple billion dollars—you'd think we're worth the couple million to put in grass fields."

"When I play on grass, my body doesn't ache," she says. "It can get sore, but it doesn't pulse and my legs don't ache. When I play on turf, my legs can pulse and ache for up to 24 hours and it could take 3-5 days to recover, whereas grass, after 24 hours I'm ready to play again."

Morgan has seen teammates suffer season-ending injuries that she blames on turf, however. She recalled Portland Thorns teammate Nikki Marshall tearing her ACL after getting "caught in the turf" while planting her foot. The turf didn't give like natural grass would have, she says.

Freitas says there's some truth to this.

"When your foot hits the grass and you twist, your foot is going to come out of contact with the ground easier than it would on an artificial surface," he says. "So that rotation is then taken up in your ligament, which can rupture, as opposed to your foot breaking contact with the grass, which allows that force to be dissipated."

"The fields smell," he says. "It's a strong, chemical smell. What are you inhaling? We really don't know. You'd want the answer to that before you install them, particularly in places where there are kids or athletes in high stress situations."