On Oct. 26, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Council President Gianni Infantino approved the motion to increase the prize money pool for the Women’s World Cup, doubling it from $15 million to $30 million for next year.
The council has also approved for $11.5 million to be shared with the 24 teams for the tournament preparations.
Although this is a large increase in funding, many players’ unions are still very unhappy with how women, and the Women’s World Cup, has historically been pushed to the back burner in favor of the Men’s World Cup.
For example, when France won the World Cup in July, they were awarded $38 million from FIFA. In comparison, the women’s championship that will be held next year in France is expected to award only $4 million dollars. However, this is twice the amount that the United States team collected in 2015.
In recent history, FIFA has been repeatedly urged to close the gender gap between men’s and women’s games.
Former FIFA Council member and former Australian national team player Moya Dodd told the Associated Press, “Leaders in sport should not be content to sit back and let the gender pay gap get wider in absolute terms on their watch.”
The players union Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels, otherwise known as FIFPro, also had comments on the gender gap, noting that “despite these changes football remains even further from the goal of equality for all World Cup players regardless of gender…in reality, the changes actually signify an increase in the gap between men’s and women’s prize money.”
FIFPro was referring to the fact that, while women’s soccer must fight to improve funding from year to year, men’s soccer funding seems to exponentially grow every year.
The prize money for 2018’s 32-team men’s World Cup in Russia was $400 million, which had increased by $48 million since 2014.
Megan Rapinoe, a veteran player for Team USA, has said that she doesn’t feel as though FIFA really cares about women’s soccer, whether it is supporting it financially, or making it inviting to professional women players.
“I think they’re probably looking for pats on the back for the increase, and they’re not getting any from here. I said this maybe last year: that FIFA doesn’t show they really care about the women’s game … in the way they truly care about the men’s game, they don’t truly care about the women’s game,” Rapinoe told AP.
The organization has also stated that they will now be paying for business-class flights for some of the members of the women’s teams. At the 2018 World Cup, FIFA offered business-class return flights for 50 people to all the men’s team delegations that traveled to Russia. While FIFA will cover some of the cost of flights for the women, not all team members have a guarantee of being covered.
FIFA has also promised to raise the standards by which women’s soccer is treated during the 2019 World Cup by ensuring that opposing teams are not boarding at the same hotel. In the men’s soccer league, hotel sharing between rival teams is not allowed, to help prevent pre-game bad blood.
Although last year the BBC reported that, overall, the gender pay gap is shrinking, there are still many measures that can be taken to ensure that the playing field, so to speak, is leveled and athletes, whether male or female, are provided with similar incentives and conditions to compete under.