While FIFA goes on promoting gender equality in its public relations campaigns and public service messages, some top women footballers from around the world believe that the actual scenario is quite different.
The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, to be held in Canada, is set to be played across six venues. However, none of these venues have grass pitches, and so all Women's World Cup matches are now set to be played on artificial grass or turf.
Now this might seem fine to people who have never played football on artificial grass. The players, however, have a completely different opinion on this issue.
The women's footballing community has gone up in arms against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), threatening to boycott the tournament, if they fail to replace articifial turfs with proper grass. Sources say the players are also not adverse to the idea of taking legal action against the two organisations, turning this into a gender issue.
"It really goes down to this: the men would never play a World Cup on turf, so why should the women? It's the same tournament. It's the World Cup," said US forward Sidney Leroux, in an interview to Associated Press.
"It's the biggest thing that we have for soccer. Why would we play on something that's not real?"
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 13, 2014
This picture, tweeted by NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, shows the cuts and bruises on Leroux's legs, after a session on artificial turf. These bruises and bumps just go on to show how vulnerable to injuries the players are, when they play on artificial grass.
However, the CSA does not seem to have budged to the demands of the athletes. They also do not seem fazed by the allegations of gender discrimination. In fact, they seemed to have merely waved it away, calling it "nothing but (a) misfortunate and typical hyperbole".
The CSA quoted the difference in the budget, which they have set for the men's and the women's football teams, to prove that they are not discriminating on the basis of gender. They say that the current budget they have set for the women's team stands at $4 million, while that of the men's team is just half of that. Hence, they believe that the question of gerder discrimination by CSA does not arise.
It is another matter, however, that the Canadian women's team almost went on a strike, when the "compensation" they would receive for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup was announced. There are also those within the CSA, who believe that the Canadian men's team will never even think of playing on anything but natural grass, even if it is just a qualifier.
Meanwhile, FIFA seems to be hell-bent on not going back on its approval for the tournament to be played on artificial grass.
A survey conducted by FIFA themselves suggest that 77 percent of the female players from around the world have either agreed or strongly accented to the fact that all women's football matches should be played on natural grass. It seems the opinion of the female athletes does not matter to FIFA as they stated that the decision to coduct all matches of next year's Women's World Cup on grass had already been taken before the survey. The survey, then, seems to have been made just for the records.
Many celebrated figures - from both inside and outside the world of football - also supported these women in their fight for a level playing field. Other than Bryant, fellow NBA star Kevin Durant, footballer Tim Howard and NFL star Collin Kaepemick and actor Tom Hanks have all come out in support of these women.
Opinion: Women's World Cup is the best Soccer of the year. Hey FIFA, they deserve real grass. Put in sod. Hanx
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) August 22, 2014
"This isn't a precedent we want to get set that this is something we're okay with," said US forward Abby Wambach, to Fox Soccer. "Because then we're just going to be playing on field turf forever. It's pertinent for the future of the sport."