Gianni Infantino says ‘women have the power’ to achieve equality in football

Ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final between England and Spain, the Fifa president said women must ‘push the door’ to equality

Jamie Braidwood
in Sydney
Friday 18 August 2023 07:03 BST
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Fifa president Gianni Infantino said it is women who “have the power to change” football and achieve equality in the game.

It has already been a record-breaking Women’s World Cup, with the tournament in Australia and New Zealand setting its highest-ever attendance figures of over two million people as well as drawing booming TV audiences around the globe. The Fifa president also said the World Cup has generated over $570m (£447m) in revenues and has “broke even” financially ahead of Sunday’s final between England and Spain.

There remains a huge discrepancy in prize money between the men’s and women’s World Cups, however. Despite a 10-fold increase from the last Women’s World Cup in 2019, the record prize money of $152m (£126m) announced by Fifa before the tournament remains some way short of the reported $440m (£365m) prize money on offer to teams at last year’s men’s finals in Qatar.

While Infantino said Fifa remains on track to achieve equal pay between the men’s and women’s World Cup at the 2026 and 2027 tournaments, the Fifa president urged media and sponsors to step to help bridge the gap and said women “have the power to convince men” that equity in football can be reached.

Infantino, who was speaking at Fifa’s women’s football convention in Sydney ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final, said in his closing remarks: “We have to start treating men and women, or women and men, in the same way.

“And I say to all the women - and you know I have four daughters, so I have a few at home - I say to all the women, that you have the power to change.

“Pick the right battles. Pick the right fights. You have the power to change. You have the power to convince us men what we have to do and what we don’t have to do. You do it. Just do it.

“With men, with Fifa, you will find open doors. Just push the doors. They are open. And do it also at national level, in every country, at continental level, in every confederation. Just keep pushing, keep the momentum, keep dreaming, and let’s really go for a full equality.

“Not just equal pay in the World Cup, which is a slogan that comes up every now and then. Equal pay in the World Cup, we are going in that direction already. But that would not solve anything.

“It might be a symbol but it would not solve anything, because it’s one month every four years and it’s a few players out of the thousands and thousands of players.

“We need to keep the momentum. We need to push it. We need to go for equality but we have to do it for real. And you, here in this room, all the women in this room, you have the power to do it. So believe in it.”

Gianni Infantino

Infantino hailed the impact of the first-ever 32-team Women’s World Cup, which led to historic achievements from several teams at the tournament and several shocks during the the group stages.

Colombia, South Africa and Jamaica all reached the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time, defying the odds to upset established nations such as Germany and Brazil.

The Fifa president said the tournament has “simply been the best and greatest and biggest Women’s World Cup ever” and said the tournament has answered the “critics” who said the competition was expanding too quickly.

“I’m sorry but Fifa was right. Fifa was right,” Infantino said. “As it happens quite often in the last years, Fifa was right once more.”

He continued: “We didn’t lose any money and we generated the second highest income of any sport, besides of course the men’s World Cup, at a global stage. More than half a billion

“There are not many competitions, even in men’s football, who generate more than half a billion.

“This shows what? This shows that our strategy was probably not too bad. That, of course, we have to do still much better.

“Before the beginning of the World Cup we heard some critical voices, but now we see the audiences.

“So the pledge has to be, and to ask everyone, in terms of broadcasters, sponsors, partners, to of course pay a fair price to women’s football. Not to the World Cup, the World Cup has already generated over 570m, but to women’s football in general in all the countries, in all the leagues, in all the competitions.”

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