In the days that followed the cancellation of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s Hawaii match against Trinidad and Tobago because of unsuitable field conditions, a new nickname emerged to describe the fiasco: Alohagate.
Unfortunately, too many people will chalk this incident up to the facilities (oh, no! turf!) when in reality, it’s the symptom of several greater problems in soccer.
The fact that there was no site inspection of the practice or competition venues beforehand, and that US Soccer signed a contract for all fields sight unseen, is just one aspect. But that is only scratching the surface. Literally. FIFA in general and US Soccer in particular have long been accused of unfair treatment of its women’s teams and the lack of even looking at the facilities ahead of the game is simply more proof at a time when men’s facilities are fully vetted.
“It’s no secret that FIFA is stuck in the 1950s when it comes to women’s soccer,” wrote Nancy Armour of USA Today.
And here’s something even the general public can’t miss. The Victory Tour is starting to look like The Money Tour. The tour is certainly a showcase for the current USWNT, and it marks the last time many of the World Cup victors will play together; Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny are retiring at its conclusion. The sporting purpose of the tour itself seems questionable. Many of the matches have been blowout wins. Only two have been draws (and one of those was the recent ill-fated match in Hawaii). The competition often has been less than stellar. Haiti sent a team of teenagers, for example, which resulted in an 8-0 win for Team USA.
Of course, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the biggest loss of all in Alohagate was dealt to the fans, many of whom had traveled to Oahu for the match. Although refunds for tickets were given, travel costs were something that could not be recouped.
The lasting tragedy for the sports facility construction industry is that the cancelled match may only be remembered by the public as the failure of a turf field. In reality, the roots extend much deeper than those found in any field, natural or synthetic, a soccer player runs across.