MontrEal, Nov 8: Elite female footballers and the Canadian Soccer Association looked set for mediation in an attempt to resolve their dispute over the use of artificial pitches at next summer's Women's World Cup.
The two sides have seven days to accept the order, an adjudicator at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario said Friday, and football's world governing body FIFA -- which backs the use of plastic pitches -- can also take part.
A group of players led by American star Abby Wambach complained to the court last month, saying that they considered the use of artificial pitches gender discrimination.
The men's World Cup is played on natural grass and the women players are requesting the same.
The players also allege that playing on artificial turf is dangerous and not befitting for international competition.
For its part, the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) denies discrimination.
The Women's World Cup takes place from June 6 to July 5, 2015, leaving limited time for the two sides to find a resolution. With that in mind, the players had requested an expedited application to the tribunal.
The CSA believes the players have left it too late to make their complaint, pointing out that FIFA accepted its bid to host the tournament in March 2011 and the host cities were announced in May the following year.
Taking the arguments into account, Jo-Anne Pickel, vice-chair of the tribunal, stated in a written ruling: "For the reasons set out above, the applicant's request to expedite the hearing is denied.
"However, the tribunal is prepared to offer the parties an early mediation in the matter.
"All the parties are directed to advise the tribunal in writing within seven days of the date of this interim decision whether they are willing to participate in an early mediation with respect to this application."
The women's World Cup will be staged in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. AFP