Fifa President Gianni Infantino says equal pay at men’s and women’s World Cups is just a ‘symbol’ that ‘wouldn’t solve anything’ if additional development goals for women’s football are not met.
On Sunday, England play Spain in the final for their share of an increased prize pool of US$110m (£86.1m) for that tournament, more than three times what they saw at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, still significantly less than the $440m (£346m) awarded at the 2022 men’s competition in Qatar.
Infantino had previously outlined his ambitions for price equality at the 2026 and 2027 World Championships, but two days before the conclusion of the ninth edition of the women’s showpiece he urged those involved to do more.
The Fifa boss said: “Let’s really go for full equality. Not just equal pay at the World Cup, a slogan that keeps popping up. Equal pay at the World Cup, we are already on our way there.
“But that wouldn’t solve anything. It could be a symbol but it wouldn’t solve anything because it’s a month every four years and it’s a few players among thousands upon thousands of players. We have to keep the momentum going. We have to push it. We have to strive for equality, but we really have to do it.”
The president also drew criticism for his closing remarks, which some said placed undue burdens on women to effect change and, paradoxically, urged them to open doors he claimed were already open.
Infantino said, “And I say to all women, and you know I have four daughters, so I have a few at home, I say to all women, that you have the power to change.”
“Choose the right battles. Choose the right fights. You have the power to change. They have the power to convince us men what we must and must not do. You do it. Just do it. With men, with Fifa, the doors are open. Just push the doors. You are open.”
Two months before the tournament, Infantino threatened that he “could be forced not to broadcast the World Cup in the ‘big five’ countries of Europe” after being made “very disappointing and simply unacceptable” offers by the broadcasters, despite eventually agreements were hit .
Viewership has smashed records in Australia, where a peak of 11.5 million people – around 46 per cent of the population – tuned in to watch the Matildas v England semi-final, the country’s most-watched television program ever since 2001. The existing ratings system was established.
At home, the 7.3million people who watched the same competition on BBC One represented the biggest British audience at the World Cup to date, and on Friday Infantino reiterated his view that broadcasters must play their part in the goal of price equality.
The 2023 tournament has been expanded to 32 teams and is also the first time the competition has been hosted by more than one country, but Infantino said it was a financial success.
Infantino said: “Some voices have been raised that if it costs too much, we don’t make enough revenue, we have to subsidize it.”
“And our opinion was: if we have to subsidize, we will subsidize because we have to.
“But actually this World Cup generated over $570 million in revenue and we have broken even. We haven’t lost any money and are the second highest grossers of any sport in the world, barring the Men’s World Cup of course. More than half a billion (sales).”