FIFA president Gianni Infantino responded to demands for equal prize money for the Women’s World Cup Friday, stating that it wouldn’t “solve anything.”
“Some voices were raised, where it cost too much, we don’t make enough revenues, we will have to subsidize,” Infantino stated at the FIFA Women’s Football Convention. “And our opinion was, ‘Well, if we have to subsidize, we will subsidize’, because we have to do that.”
The current World Cup prize money is $110 million for women and $440 million for men – a disparity which has been vocally protested for the past several years. However, it is a substantial improvement over previous years, with the 2018/2019 games offering only $30M in women’s prize money to men’s $400M.
Infantino previously expressed hopes that equal pay could be achieved by 2027, but largely deflected the responsibility to broadcasters and sponsors. Fortunately, this is helped this year by FIFA’s decision to sell the commercial rights to the Women’s World Cup separately, instead of including them for free with bids on the men’s World Cup as in previous years.
As a result, the Women’s World Cup has broken even this tournament, generating over $570 million in revenue.
“What we did was to create for the first time in the history of FIFA a separate commercial program for the Women’s World Cup, which brought us some interesting figures – generating half a billion U.S. dollars,” Infantino stated back in July. “We have costs as well, more or less at this level. But this is important because we are breaking even for such a big event with a significant increase in the prize money and in all the investments that we are doing.”
However, prize money isn’t the sole angle of the equal pay discussion. Only as of this tournament are competitors in the Women’s World Cup guaranteed a minimum pay of $30,000 each – though the money is still paid through federations, as opposed to being paid directly to players. This comes after a FIFA report earlier this year that the global average salary for female soccer players is just $14,000.
Much of the pressure for equal pay in soccer has come from global players’ union FIFPRO, which wrote to FIFA in March 2023, most notably calling for more equitable pay and conditions between the men’s and women’s teams and for 30% of prize money to be guaranteed to players. It cited FIFA’s own statement that the women’s tournament is the “single biggest growth opportunity” in the sport.
(Photo by Piotr Drabik | CC BY 2.0)