Oil and gas in our lives: Women’s World Cup of Soccer

‘The beautiful game’ wouldn’t look the same without petroleum products

By Shawn Logan
Players react moments after Australia's forward #16 Hayley Raso (unseen) scored her team's second goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup Group B football match between Canada and Australia at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on July 31, 2023. Getty Images photo

The Adidas OCEAUNZ, official ball of the 2023 Women’s World Cup of Soccer, soars through the air, its polyurethane skin a blur as it arcs toward the goal. 

The goalie makes a desperate dive across the emerald green natural turf – strengthened at the root for durability by flexible polypropylene fibres – to make the stop. 

The ‘keeper’s hands, sheathed in high-tech gloves made primarily from latex and polyurethane, reach for the streaking ball. 

The crowd leaps up from their moulded plastic seats as the ball hits the back of the net, an interlacing spiderweb most commonly made from polyethylene or nylon. 

As soccer fans prepare for the Women’s World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand, it’s difficult to imagine how different the event, which is expected to be viewed by a staggering 2 billon people around the world, would look and feel without products derived from oil and gas. 

At field level, nearly every practical aspect of the game relies on or is impacted by petroleum-based gear. 

From the synthetic leather turf cleats and polyester jerseys to the players’ benches, water bottles and medical equipment that adorn the sidelines, all are made possible from the contributions of oil and gas products. 

When a referee flashes a yellow or red card, it’s often made from a sturdy polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC. 

Extending beyond the field, that trend continues. 

From plastic spectator seating to polycarbonate scoreboards to advertising placards in and around the arena, all are thanks to the contributions of oil and gas. The event lights that encircle the arenas and the broadcasting equipment that allow the world to cheer their countries also rely heavily on products derived from petroleum. 

Even the competing nations’ flags that drape the facilities are made from nylon and polyester. 

With an expected 1.5 million spectators taking in the action in Australia and New Zealand, most will have had to travel by air or vehicle, which largely require oil and gas to operate. 

And when Canada’s women return home – unfortunately without the result they wanted (Tokyo’s Olympic gold medal helps to ease the pain a bit) – they’ll arrive on an airplane built with light-weight polymers and carbon fibre that will touch down on a smooth runway made of asphalt and concrete, neither of which would be possible without oil and gas. 

So while some may yearn for a return to the days of less aerodynamic leather balls, heavy cotton jerseys and fragile natural turf, the impact on “the beautiful game” would be enormous. 

The unaltered reproduction of this content is free of charge with attribution to Canadian Energy Centre Ltd.