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MLS star refuses to play in Vancouver citing artificial turf concerns

(Anita Bathe, News1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The star striker for the visiting Montreal Impact won’t be on the field for the home opener. The artificial turf at BC Place continues to keep some of the MLS’ biggest names out of Vancouver.

Didier Drogba will not play Sunday. Word is it’s because he’s concerned playing on artificial turf will aggravate a chronic knee injury.

He’s not the first to give the excuse. Simon Fudge with Goal.com Canada says some of the older players are hesitant. “There’s very little give on the surface. It isn’t just that the ball doesn’t roll as naturally as it does on grass. It particularly is very tough on the joints as opposed to grass where there’s a lot more give as you’re moving. The thing with soccer it because there’s so much shifting of speeds and change of directions, you’re off of a lot of your joints.”

He wonders if cost was the deciding factor when PAVCo went with artificial. “Probably the costs of the maintenance and the artificial lighting and things that they would’ve had to bring in to make all of that a reality would’ve probably been a cost they weren’t prepared to pick up, particularly after the large investment that had been made in the stadium on the renovations.”

BC Place is used for all sorts of events besides soccer like trade shows and concerts. Fudge bets that would add an extra layer of difficulty to keeping real grass. Either way, Fudge says Whitecaps fans should be coming to support their team, not visiting stars.