The draw of the 2015 Women's World Cup will take place in Canada's capital of Ottawa on Saturday, with all previous champions present among the 24 teams who have qualified for the final tournament.
The cup itself will take place in June and July 2015 across six of Canada's greatest cities, and as reported by Reuters' Steve Keating, the controversy surrounding the use of artificial pitches in some venues will not will not stand in the way of the tournament taking place.
Oddschecker have released their first odds for the 2015 Women's World Cup ahead of the draw:
|2015 Women's World Cup Odds|
With the draw taking place in less than a week, here are some predictions regarding Saturday's event.
Europe Will Lose Third Seed to Brazil
FIFA have yet to release the official seedings for the draw, as reported by the Equalizer's Jeff Kassouf, with one of the organisation's spokespersons confirming the procedure will be announced during a press conference on Friday.
The teams will be split into six groups of four teams, meaning the top six teams will be seeded for the draw. Hosts Canada will receive the top seed, and according to FIFA's latest rankings, the remaining seeds should go to the USA, Japan, Germany, France and Sweden.
It's highly unlikely FIFA will move forward with three seeds going to the top European teams and none to a team from South America, however. Brazil are next on the list, and it's possible the organising committee passes over the Swedes to hand the sixth seed to the Brazilians.
Avoiding an early exit for some of the top nations not based in Europe will be one of FIFA's top priorities—giving the Brazilians a top seed makes sense from that perspective.
Artificial Turf Will Be a Thing
Reigning FIFA Player of the Year Nadine Angerer confirmed the players are focused on the ongoing lawsuit regarding the use of artificial turf at the tournament, but a boycott is not in order, via Keating:
Our focus right now is on the lawsuit, none of us talked about anything beyond that.
FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association should give us the best opportunity to play our game. But we have never ever talked about a boycott of the World Cup.
The controversy arose when it became clear several of the venues will be using artificial turf as opposed to natural grass, something the players are opposed to due to the higher risk of injury.
The matter was further complicated when it became clear not all venues would have the turf—questions regarding an unfair competitive advantage arose, as some of the players have no experience on the new surface whatsoever.
Most importantly, however, the players see it as a case of discrimination, as explained by one of the attorneys for the women's lawsuit, David Wright (per Keating):
We feel this is a clear-cut case of discrimination. Most fundamentally it is simply a differential degrading treatment to the women. Elite men play on grass, elite women are being told turf is good enough for them.
The discussion has lost some of its intensity in the past few weeks, but after the conclusion of the draw, expect said intensity to return. At least one or two of the top teams will be drawn into a group which will play its matches on the turf, and if the USA or Germany are among the unlucky few, the top players will make their opinions clear.