FIFA President Gianni Infantino says women should ‘pick the right battles’ to ‘convince us, men, what we have to do’ in fight for equality

FIFA President Gianni Infantino watches the Women's World Cup semifinal match between Australia and England at Stadium Australia on August 16, 2023.
CNN  — 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says women should “pick the right battles” to “convince us, men, what we have to do” over equality issues in soccer.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final between England and Spain, Infantino also addressed the funding disparity between men and women at their respective World Cup tournaments.

Soccer players at the 2023 Women’s World Cup will on average earn just 25 cents for every dollar earned by men at their World Cup last year, according to a recent CNN analysis.

However, that is an improvement: last time, in 2019, it was less than eight cents per dollar, according to data provided by world governing body FIFA and global players’ union FIFPRO.

“I say to all the women – and you know I have four daughters, so I have a few at home – I say to all the women that you have the power to change,” said Infantino. “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. You do it, just do it. With me, with FIFA, you will find open doors. Just push the doors, they are open.

“And, do it also at national level in every country, at continental level, in every confederation. Just keep pushing, keep the momentum [going], keep dreaming, and let’s really go for full equality.”

‘Slogan that comes up every now and then’

FIFA announced in June that, for the first time, about $49 million of the record $110 million Women’s World Cup prize money would go directly to individual players — at least $30,000 each for participating and $270,000 to each player on the winning squad.

The rest of the pot is going to be split between participating federations who will decide what share of this money to allocate to teams and players – if any at all. In addition to prize money, FIFA committed to paying $42 million to the federations and players’ clubs for Women’s World Cup preparations.

Infantino described equal pay in the Women’s World Cup as a “slogan that comes up every now and then.”

“Equal pay in the World Cup – we are going in that direction already,” added Infantino. “But, that would not solve anything. It might be a symbol but it will not solve anything because [a World Cup is held for] one month every four years, and it’s a few players out of the thousands and thousands of players [that take part].”

Last year, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the United States Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) and the United States National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA) agreed to a deal that achieves “equal pay and set the global standard moving forward in international soccer.”

Crystal Dunn (middle) signs a collective bargaining agreement signing signifying equal pay between the US men's and women's national soccer teams on September 6, 2022 in Washington, DC.

US Soccer, under the agreements, will become “the first Federation in the world to equalize FIFA World Cup prize money” awarded to the teams for participating in World Cups.

But a FIFPRO report released in June found two thirds of surveyed players reported having to take unpaid leave from another job to play for their national team in World Cup qualifying tournaments, such as the CONCACAF W Championship or the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Almost a third weren’t paid by their national teams at all during these past 18 months, and for those who were paid, it was often dependent on participation and performance, creating instability.