FIFA charts an ‘equal pay path’ at the Women’s World Cup, but 2023 prize money is still 25% of men’s betting pool

KIGALI, RWANDA - MARCH 16: Gianni Infantino, FIFA President speaks to the media during the FIFA Congress press conference on March 16, 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.  (Photo by Tom Dalat - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

KIGALI, RWANDA – MARCH 16: Gianni Infantino, FIFA President speaks to the media during the FIFA Congress press conference on March 16, 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda. (Photo by Tom Dalat – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Charting the long-awaited “path” to equality, FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced Thursday that the “ambition” and “goal” of world football’s governing body is to have equal prize money on offer at the 2026 and 2027 World Cups for men and women.

Infantino also said that in the near term, players and staff at the 2023 Women’s World Cup will have “the same terms” and services as men in 2022. FIFA’s governing board has approved an increase in prize money for the 2023 World Cup, far in excess of $60 million. which was previously promised by Infantino.

However, the new $110m is still only 25% of the $440m paid out to the 32 national soccer associations that took part in the 2022 Men’s World Cup, even though the two tournaments hosted the same number of teams.

the The prize money gapThe club, which has been the subject of criticism from women’s soccer players and advocates, has for decades encouraged every soccer association worldwide to invest a large proportion of resources in the success of the men’s national team.

The money goes directly to those unions. Some players’ associations have They bargained with their unions in return for a share of them, but it was never an explicit compensation to the player; It has always been primarily a reward for investment, and therefore an incentive for disproportionate investment. Less than a decade ago, federations received a $358 million stake if their men’s team qualified for the 2014 World Cup, and only a $15 million stake if their women’s team qualified for the 2015 World Cup. A decade earlier, and before 2007, there was no monetary reward. On the success of the Women’s World Cup ever.

FIFA, a non-profit organization, has not provided any recorded rationale for this disparity. Some have justified this by pointing to the commercial appeal of the men’s tournament. But until recently, FIFA sold broadcast and sponsorship rights to the men’s and women’s World Cup tournaments as a package. It cannot actually indicate a revenue disparity. Besides, critics have argued, FIFA’s lack of investment in the women’s gamealong with its unwillingness to stimulate investment at the national level, was the primary driver of the underperformance of the Women’s World Cup in the spectator and commercial areas.

But now the tide is turning.

players and some associations, Led by the stars of the US Women’s National Team last decadePublic pressure mounted on FIFA to rectify the inequality. Last October, FIFPRO, an umbrella organization representing men’s and women’s players worldwide, wrote to FIFA on behalf of 150 women’s players from 25 different countries to call for “an equal framework of regulations and conditions for the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup, Including equality. Cash prize.”

They argued in the letter, which was obtained by Yahoo Sports, that the prize money “significantly influences how countries disproportionately prioritize their efforts to support the men’s national team over the women’s national team. It also perpetuates the position of women’s football as an ‘expense’ rather than than to be a contributor to football in some parts of the world. This is because the same effort and achievement do not yield the same reward. We want our performance to be important, not only for us but for the whole football family in our countries and around the world.”

FIFA seems to have listened – to the players and the growing chorus around the world, especially in Europe and North America.

Infantino concluded FIFA’s annual congress on Thursday in Rwanda by outlining what he described as a three-step “journey” towards equal pay and more. Step 1 has already been taken, or at least promised: FIFA will, for the first time in 2023, Women’s teams offer dedicated base camps Other facilities, accommodations and travel are on par with those of the Men’s World Cup. (Or so you say.)

Step 2 is the significant increase in prize money. In announcing it, Infantino also specified that the $110 million — the bulk of which, likely around $10 million, goes to the champions, with the smallest pieces going to the 16 teams eliminated in the group stage — should be allocated in part to the federations. To invest in youth football and partly directly to the players.

This was a major point of FIFPRO’s speech. “Many players do not have an agreement with [federations] To ensure they receive fair and equitable treatment, including guaranteed World Cup compensation, for example, as part of the World Cup prize money, players have also requested a “global guarantee of at least 30% of the prize money”. Infantino said discussions about the exact scheme are ongoing.

“Now comes the third step, the hardest and most complex step, the one that will take the longest,” Infantino said in conclusion. The third step is overcoming the decades of neglect that have left the women’s game behind the men’s game commercially.

To start this catch-up, FIFA last year devised a new marketing concept dedicated to women’s football, and began selling separately the rights to sponsorship and broadcast the Women’s World Cup. Its goal, Infantino said, is “to be able to equalize payments for the 2026 Men’s and Women’s 27 World Cups.”

Of course, FIFA could balance the payments right now if it wanted to – there is no direct relationship between revenue and prize money – but Infantino has argued it needs companies and broadcasters to get on board too.

He blamed media companies, specifically “public broadcasters in major countries”, for criticizing FIFA’s inequality while offering far less money in negotiations for women’s World Cup rights than they currently pay for men’s World Cup rates.

“We need to be all on the same side,” said Infantino. “FIFA will do its part. We have already started. [We need] Others should do the same.”

“FIFA is moving forward with actions, not just words,” he added. And while there was no binding promise, and nothing firm about his commitment to equal pay in 2026 and 2027, many felt it was genuine.

“Significant progress has been made on the conditions, prize money and redistribution of prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup,” Fifpro said in a statement hours later. It acknowledged that details still had to be confirmed, but said: “The progress announced today demonstrates the players’ and FIFA’s intent to work proactively towards greater fairness and equality in the industry.”

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