Fans file class-action lawsuit over canceled US soccer game

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HONOLULU — Lawyers in Hawaii filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of fans who couldn't go to a canceled U.S. women's soccer team game.

Fans flew to Oahu from the mainland and neighbor islands to watch the exhibition game that was abruptly canceled last weekend, said Brandee Faria, managing member at law firm Perkin & Faria. One plaintiff from Los Angeles spent $1,000 on airfare, hotel and parking expenses, she said.

"There's a lot of people, both from outer islands and from the mainland, that traveled here specifically for that," Faria said.

Game tickets are being refunded to the 16,000 fans who planned to go, but other expenses are not being refunded. The suit seeks to recover that money from the U.S. Soccer Federation and the Aloha Stadium Authority.

"The Stadium Authority was responsible for providing a first class regulation soccer field," Faria said. "On the other hand the U.S. Soccer Federation was responsible for making sure that that venue was appropriate for players."

Neither fulfilled those responsibilities, she said.

Lois Manin, deputy manager at the Aloha Stadium Authority, declined to comment and Neil Buethe, a spokesman from the Soccer Federation didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States was scheduled to pay Trinidad and Tobago in Hawaii on Sunday as part of a 10-game exhibition tour celebrating the American victory in the Women's World Cup last summer.

The fact that the match fell apart over field conditions speaks to the unequal treatment of the women's soccer team, Faria said, because the stadium and Soccer Federation could have done more to save the game.

"They have the ability to take a field that is otherwise unsafe and either turf it or put in natural grass...but they didn't even fix it," Faria said.

An attorney from the U.S Soccer Federation had written a letter to Aloha Stadium Sunday saying it defaulted on its agreement with the soccer team, calling the stadium field "unfit, unsafe and unplayable." Stadium officials have said they had no prior issues with turf safety.

The class-action suit was filed in Hawaii state court on Tuesday.

Follow Cathy Bussewitz on Twitter at (at)cbussewitz. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/cathy-bussewitz .


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