LYON, France — Despite a proposal announced on Friday by FIFA president Gianni Infantino to invest $1 billion in the women’s game over the next four years and double prize money at the Women’s World Cup in 2023, U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe said women soccer players are not respected equally by their sport’s international governing body.
“It certainly is not fair,” Rapinoe said of the gap in prize money awarded at the men’s and women’s World Cups. “We should double it now and use that number to double it or quadruple it for the next time. That’s what I mean when we talk about, ‘Do we feel respected?'”
FIFA doubled the 2015 prize money for the Women’s World Cup to $30 million in 2019 and raised the amount awarded to the winning team to $4 million. At last year’s men’s World Cup, France received $38 million for winning the title from a $400 million purse, and earlier this year, FIFA announced it would raise the men’s pool to $440 million for 2022. That means that while the women’s purse will increase to a proposed $60 million in 2023, the gap between the men and women will increase the next time around.
“Earlier in the year, a quote came out that I said, ‘FIFA doesn’t care about the women’s game,’ and that’s what I mean,” Rapinoe said. “If you really care about each game in the same way, are you letting the gap grow? No. Are you scheduling three finals on the same day? No. Are you letting some federations play two games in the four years between each tournament? No, you’re not.”
At one point in Saturday’s news conference, Rapinoe broke out in song when asked what can be done to ensure that the momentum gains made at this month’s Women’s World Cup continue into the future.
“Money, money, money, money,” Rapinoe sang. “Money from FIFA, money from federations, money from advertisers, sponsors, rights holders, TV, all of that. Investing in infrastructure, training programs, academies for women, in coaching for women. I don’t think you get to the point of having an incredible business by running it on a budget that is one dollar more than it was last year. You have to make big upfront investments and really bet on the future.”
This is not the first time Rapinoe has criticized FIFA for its decision to schedule two men’s tournament finals on the same day as the final game of the Women’s World Cup. The WWC final between the United States and Netherlands will kick off at 11 a.m. ET in Lyon, France, on Sunday. Then, at 4 p.m. ET, the Copa America men’s final will take place in Rio de Janeiro, followed by the CONCACAF Gold Cup men’s final in Chicago at 9 p.m. ET.
In making these scheduling decisions, FIFA has taken a “rising tides” defense, saying that playing all three finals on the same day will boost attention for each event, an argument Rapinoe said is lacking.
“It’s terrible scheduling for everyone,” Rapinoe said. “It’s a terrible idea to put everything on the same day. In every way. Obviously, there are two other finals going on, but this is the World Cup final. This is, like, cancel everything day. The World Cup final is set so far in advance, it’s actually unbelievable [this happened]. No, we don’t feel the same level of respect that FIFA has for the men.
“I mean, we’re making a [men’s] World Cup in Qatar happen [in 2023]. That shows you the kind of care [FIFA] has about the men’s World Cup, considering all the issues that are happening there.”