The world’s best female footballers can achieve pay equality — if only they “convince us men” first, according to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, sparking a near-immediate backlash.
(Bloomberg) — The world’s best female footballers can achieve pay equality — if only they “convince us men” first, according to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, sparking a near-immediate backlash.
“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,” Infantino said on Friday at the second FIFA Women’s Football Convention in Sydney.
He added: “You do it. Just do it. With me, with FIFA, you will find open doors. Just push the doors. They are open.”
A number of female athletes were quick to denounce the remarks. Norwegian player and the first female Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg posted on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter: ‘Working on a little presentation to convince men. Who’s in?’
Former Canadian international Amy Walsh joked that women should title their worldwide push for equality the ‘Convince the Men – A Gianni Infantino Joint’.
The comments come during the final stages of the Women’s World Cup, taking place in Australia and New Zealand, which has seen record ticket sales and a huge uptick in sponsorship revenue. England will face Spain in Sunday’s final in Sydney’s Stadium Australia.
Two billion people tuned in to watch the World Cup around the globe and two million attended matches in person, both record highs. The tournament also broke even, generating $570 million, according to the FIFA president, unlike the 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cup competitions. Yet women have continued to face lagging pay even as the popularity of the sport continues to jump.
Read more: The $1.4 Billion Corporate Sponsorship Hole in the Women’s World Cup
The winning team in this year’s tournament will receive $10.5 million, with $6.2 million earmarked for distribution to its players. By contrast, Argentina, the winners of the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year, received $42 million.
To be sure, Infantino has in the past been a vocal proponent of the women’s game. He has called for better sporting conditions, demanded that broadcasters offer higher bids to show the tournament on television—which he has linked to lower prize money—and demanded that more countries set up women’s leagues.
The FIFA president has previously said he hopes to offer equal prize money for the Men’s and Women’s World Cups within a few years.
Concluding his remarks in Sydney, Infantino said: “Just keep pushing, keep the momentum going, keep dreaming and let’s really go for a full equality.”
(Updated to include response from footballers.)
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