FIFA president Infantino calls for full equality in football beyond Women’s World Cup

FIFA president Infantino

FIFA president Gianni Infantino believes equal pay for the men’s and women’s World Cups would only be a “symbol” that would “solve nothing” if other development goals for the women’s game are not met.

On Sunday, England will face Spain in the final for a share of the increased US$110m (£86.1m) prize pool for the tournament, more than three times the offer for the Women’s World Cup in France 2019. but still significantly less than the US$440m (£346m) awarded in 2022 for the men’s competition in Qatar.

Infantino has previously outlined ambitions for prize parity at the 2026 and 2027 World Cups, but two days before the end of the ninth edition of the women’s showpiece, he called on stakeholders to do more.

Infantino said: “Let’s really go for full equality. Not just equal pay at the World Cup, which is a slogan that pops up every now and then. Equal pay in the World Cup, we are already moving in that direction.

“But that wouldn’t solve anything. It might be a symbol, but it wouldn’t solve anything because it’s one month in four years and it’s a few players out of thousands and thousands of players. We have to keep up the pace. We have to push for it. We have to pursue equality, but we have to do it for real.”

Two months before the tournament, Infantino threatened that he might be “forced not to broadcast” the World Cup in Europe’s “big five” countries, following offers from operators he considered “very disappointing and simply unacceptable”, although deals were eventually reached. .

Viewership broke records in Australia, where 11.5 million people – about 46 per cent of the population – tuned in to watch the Matildas take on England in their semi-final, the country’s most-watched TV program of any kind since the current ratings system was introduced in 2001.

Back home, 7.3 million people watching the same competition on BBC One was Britain’s biggest World Cup audience to date, and on Friday Infantino reiterated his view that broadcasters have a role to play in the goal of price parity.

The 2023 tournament has been expanded to 32 teams and is also the first time that more than one country has hosted the competition.

Infantino said: “There were some voices saying it cost too much, we don’t have enough revenue, we will have to subsidize.

“And our view was, well, if we have to subsidize, we’re going to subsidize because we have to.

“But actually this World Cup generated over 570 million US dollars in revenue and that’s how we broke even. We haven’t lost any money and we’ve generated the second highest revenue of any sport, apart from the Men’s World Cup of course, globally. More than half a billion (in sales).

The decision to include more teams initially sparked skepticism that it would only accentuate the disparity between lower-ranked teams and high-resource countries at the top of the table.

Instead, it was one of the most competitive finals in history, guaranteed a new champion after 2011 champions Japan were knocked out at the quarter-final stage, one round after two-time defending champions the United States were dispatched in the last 16 years. .

World number four England managed just one goal against tournament debutants Haiti, 49 places below them in the FIFA world rankings, while fellow debutants Morocco advanced to the last 16 along with Jamaica, who crashed out at the group stage in their only other finals appearance.

The top three teams in Germany, Canada and Brazil were eliminated in the group stage, while England’s quarter-final opponents Colombia progressed to the round of 16 for the first time.

And while breakthrough performances at this World Cup could lead some players to more lucrative contracts in places like Europe and the United States, the latest FIFA benchmarking report revealed that the average league and club salaries for women worldwide was just $14,000 (11,000 pounds).

Infantino demanded: “Football generally pays a fair price in all leagues and competitions. Show that you respect women and women’s sports. You will see feedback that will be absolutely fantastic.

“We need to have more local competitions, more continental competitions, more international competitions because when you see some of the beautiful stories that have been written in this World Cup.

“We have to create conditions for them in the next four years so that they can play at home at a professional level. That’s the biggest challenge we have to take on.”

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