FIFA plots ‘path to equal pay’ at Women’s World Cup, but 2023 prize money still 25% of men’s pot
Paving the long-overdue “path” towards equality, FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced on Thursday that the “ambition” and “goal” of football’s global governing body is for the 2026 and 2027 men’s and women’s World Cups to offer equal prize money.
Infantino also said that in the short term, the players and staff of the 2023 Women’s World Cup will have “the same conditions” and services as the men’s in 2022. much more than the $60 million that Infantino previously promised.
However, the new $110 million pot is still only 25% of the $440 million paid out to the 32 national football federations participating in the 2022 Men’s World Cup, despite hosting the same number of teams in the two tournaments.
The scarcity of prize money, which has been criticized by women’s footballers and defenders, has for decades encouraged every football federation around the world to invest a huge share of its resources in the success of the men’s national team.
The money goes directly to these federations. Some players’ unions negotiated their share with their federations, but this was never explicit compensation to the players; it has always been primarily a reward for investment and thus an incentive for unequal investment. Less than a decade ago, federations earned $358 million if their men’s team qualified for the 2014 World Cup, and just $15 million if their women’s team qualified for the 2015 World Cup. Ten years before, until 2007, there was no financial reward for the success of the Women’s World Cup.
FIFA, a non-profit organization, has never formally provided a rationale for such a discrepancy. Some justify this by pointing to the commercial interest of the men’s tournament. But until recently, FIFA sold the rights to broadcast and sponsor the men’s and women’s World Cups as a set; it could never actually indicate income inequality. And furthermore, critics have argued that FIFA’s lack of investment in women’s football, coupled with its unwillingness to stimulate investment at the national level, was the main reason for the low performance of the Women’s World Cup in spectator and commercial terms.
But now the situation is changing.
Players and some federations, led by the stars of the US Women’s Team in the past decade, have stepped up public pressure on FIFA to right the wrong. Last October, FIFPRO, the umbrella organization representing male and female players from around the world, sent a letter to FIFA on behalf of 150 female players from 25 different countries calling for “an equal framework of rules and conditions for the FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups, including equal prize money.”
In a letter that was obtained by Sportzshala Sports, they argued that the prize money “majorly influences how countries will disproportionately prioritize their efforts to support the men’s national team over the women’s national team.” “, and not to contribute to the development of football in some parts of the world. This is due to the fact that the same efforts and achievements do not bring the same reward. We want our results to matter, to be significant not only for us, but also for the entire football family in our countries and around the world.”
FIFA seems to have listened – to the players and to the growing chorus around the world, especially in Europe and North America.
Infantino concluded the annual FIFA Congress on Thursday in Rwanda by laying out what he called a three-stage “journey” to equal pay and more. Step 1 already done or at least promised: FIFA for the first time in 2023 offer women’s teams specialized base camps and other amenities, travel and amenities on par with the men’s world championships. (Or so it is written.)
Step 2 – a significant increase in prize money. In announcing this, Infantino also clarified that $110 million, most of which probably around $10 million goes to the champion, with the smallest parts going to the 16 teams eliminated in the group stage, should be partly allocated to the federations. for investments in youth football, and partly directly to the players.
This was the key point in the FIFPRO letter. “Many players do not agree with their [federations] to provide them with fair and equal treatment, including guaranteed compensation for the World Cup, for example, in the form of a portion of the World Cup prize money,” the statement said. Players requested a “global guarantee of at least 30% of the prize money”. Infantino said discussions on the exact scheme are ongoing.
“Now comes step 3, the hardest, most difficult step, the step that will take the longest,” Infantino concluded. Step 3 is overcoming decades of neglect that has left the women’s game behind the men’s game commercially.
To kick-start this catch-up, FIFA last year developed a new marketing concept dedicated to women’s football and began separately selling sponsorship and broadcast rights to the Women’s World Cup. His goal, according to Infantino, is “to have equal payouts at the 2026 Men’s World Championships and 27 Women’s World Championships.”
Sure, FIFA could equalize the payments right now if they wanted to – there’s no direct link between revenue and prize money – but Infantino argued that he needed companies and broadcasters to get in on the act too.
He chastised media companies, and especially “public broadcasters in big countries”, for criticizing FIFA’s unfairness, while offering much less money in negotiations over women’s rights to the World Cup than they currently pay for men’s participation in the championships. peace.
“We need everyone to be on the same side,” Infantino said. “FIFA will do its job. We’ve already started. [We need] others to do the same.”
“FIFA is activated by actions, not just words,” he added. And while his commitment to equal pay in 2026 and 2027 was neither binding nor firm, many saw it as sincere.
“Significant progress has been made on conditions, prize money and the redistribution of prize money for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup,” FIFPRO said in a statement hours later. He acknowledged that the details were yet to be confirmed, but stated: “The progress announced today demonstrates the intent of the players and FIFA to actively work towards achieving greater fairness and equality in the industry.”