On the day he was re-elected unopposed as FIFA President until 2023, Gianni Infantino launched an attack on the world’s broadcasters for not making reasonable financial offers to show matches at the Women’s World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
With just over three months to go until the start of the ninth FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Australia and New Zealand, many of the leading European nations such as England, France, Germany and Spain have yet to finalize deals with the world governing body to broadcast the matches live.
With negotiations still ongoing, FIFA has made it clear that some of the offers it has received from major broadcasters are not befitting of the status that the women’s World Cup now occupies in the sporting world. During his closing remarks at the 73rd FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, Gianni Infantino claimed that “broadcasters and sponsors have to do more”.
He went on to explain that “FIFA is receiving between ten and hundred times less from public broadcasters for the women’s World Cup than the men’s World Cup. Do you think that is normal? At the same, these public broadcasters who are paid by the taxpayers money, they criticize FIFA, a bit less the others, for not guaranteeing equal pay to men and women.”
Infantino alleged that broadcasters around the world were trying to undersell the women’s World Cup. “You pay us hundred times less but your viewing figures are very similar, maybe 20%-25% less, not 100% less. Well offer us 20% less or 50% less, but not 100% less. How can we do it, otherwise?”
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Infantino’s claims are backed by viewing figures in the United Kingdom from the respective tournaments. The Women’s World Cup semi-final in 2019 between England and the United States attracted a peak audience of 11.7 million on the BBC. Last year’s men’s World Cup final pulled in a peak of 14.9 million on the same channel, a difference of 22%.
Earlier, Infantino promised to raise prize money for this summer’s Women’s World Cup to $110 million. In addition, he pledged another $42 million in preparation money and to compensate clubs who supply players to the tournament, the so-called ‘club-benefits progam’. He also said a proportion of the prize money will go directly to the players and part to the federation and FIFA would implement a dedicated marketing concept for the women’s World Cup.
This total financial contribution of $150 million from FIFA is triple the amount set aside for the previous tournament in 2019, where there was $30 million in prize money plus $20 million for preparation money and the club benefits program. This in itself was double the amount of prize money offered at the 2015 tournament in Canada. The winners of the last women’s World Cup, the United States received $4 million in prize money in 2019.
As laudable as these growing figures are, they are still dwarfed by the figures from last year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar where the total prize fund was almost three times as much at $440 million. Every one of the 32 teams competing at the tournament were guaranteed $9 million, more than double what was given to the women’s world champions in 2019. The prize money for men’s world champions, Argentina, was $42 million, more than double the entire prize fund for the women’s World Cup in 2019.
Last October, 150 players from 25 nations had written to FIFA through the world player’s union, FIFPRO calling for a move towards equality. In a statement released following Infantino’s speech, FIFPRO claimed that “more work is needed to make sure equal conditions are enshrined for future generations” while admitting that “FIFPRO, its member unions, and the players celebrate the progress made by FIFA regarding conditions and prize money for the upcoming Women’s World Cup. The progress announced today demonstrates the intent of the players and FIFA to work proactively towards greater equity and equality for the industry.”
“The players’ commitment to build and create progress for the game continues to be the inspiration for change and growth. The work is not yet done. FIFPRO and 150 players from 25 national teams were clear in a letter sent to FIFA in October; the pathway to full equality remains of paramount importance.”
Infantino conceded that “women deserve much, much more, and we are here to fight with them and for them. We need to fight together to achieve that. The strategy that we have in our ambitions can mean in 2026 and 2027 we have equal payments for men and for women where by all the member association’s revenues are also protected.”
“That’s why we need to all be on the same side in this fight for equality, for real equality. FIFA will do it’s part but we need others to do the same.”