By Samindra Kunti in Paris
June 7 – FIFA and Gianni Infantino have promised to invest $500 million in the women’s game over the next four years, responding to the criticism over the minimal prize money on offer at the Women’s World Cup in France.
The world federation doubled the prize money for the 2019 Women’s World Cup from $15 million at the previous finals in Canada to $30 million in France. FIFA has also introduced $11.5 million in preparation money to fund the teams in the build-up to the tournament together with a Club Benefits Programme worth $8.5 million to compensate the clubs for releasing their players. The tournament winner on July 7 will receive $4 million.
But the small increase has been widely castigated, with the Australian players union and American players protesting what they perceive to be a negligible prize pool compared to the men’s game.
Speaking at the FIFA Women’s Symposium, Infantino said: “Is it enough? No but it’s a step. We are investing half a billion US dollars in the next four years in the development of women’s football. This is also making a difference.”
“For the first time in our development programme we have earmarked money especially for women’s competitions. If [national associations] organise girls and women’s football you get money. If you don’t, you don’t.”
FIFA is also setting aside $17 million for team’s travel and accommodation expenses as well as $94 million for other costs related to the Women’s World Cup, bringing the overall investment budget up to $166 million.
A FIFA documents states that the “initial estimate is to invest between $400 million and $500 million directly into the women’s game over the course of the 2019-2022 cycle. This includes the work of the women’s football division, specific development programmes focused on women’s football (grassroots, referees, coaches, clubs, leadership, etc.), the FIFA Women’s World Cup as well as youth competitions (U-17 and U-20) and funds allocated via the Forward programme to FIFA’s 211 member associations and confederations for the development of women’s football.’
The figure is attached to the world federation’s long-term strategy for women’s football that was rolled out last October.
Infantino also wants to revive his idea of a women’s world league, saying “we need to promote women’s football.” In 2016 the FIFA chief introduced the pet project, but the idea so far has failed to take off.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1576483634labto1576483634ofdlr1576483634owedi1576483634sni@o1576483634fni1576483634