On Friday, the FIFA Council voted to increase Women’s World Cup prize money from USD$15 million to $30 million. They also voted to throw in some tournament preparation money and payments to clubs for losing their NT players.
The FIFA Council also ratified a decision to establish a Task Force for Women’s Football, to identify clear goals for the professionalisation of the women’s game and mechanisms to reach them. FIFA will now set up the task force and determine a plan and timeline. pic.twitter.com/yaKMsvYqhd— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) October 26, 2018
Without context it sounds good - the prize money in the women’s game has been way too low for way too long, increasing in insulting little 3- and 5-million increments that are chump change to FIFA. But FIFPro and the Player’s Associations of the United States, Australia, and Sweden have all expressed public dissatisfaction with the increase, especially in light of the men’s prize money increasing from $358 to $400 million - an amount that is more than double the women’s increase, making the women’s total prize money less than 10% of what FIFA offers to the men.
FIFA World Cup prize money changes (USD)— FIFPro (@FIFPro) October 26, 2018
2015 ➡️2019 @FIFAWWC (women) $15 million to $30 million
2014 ➡️2018 @FIFAWorldCup (men) $358 million to $400 million#GenderPayGap has increased to $370 million from $343 million https://t.co/Za1dOUlCZK
Grant Wahl tweeted out statements from the USWNT and the Matildas expressing their disapproval, with Professional Footballers Australia having sent an official letter to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
Now official what Sports Illustrated/Fox Sports reported 2 weeks ago on 2019 women’s World Cup prize money increase. Not happy: Global, Australian & USWNT players unions pic.twitter.com/Ui2mbmkSsN— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) October 26, 2018
This letter is the same letter that Sweden’s Spelarföreningen, or player’s association, also sent to Samoura, perhaps indicating some coordination between associations.
It’s nice to see women’s teams collaborating in standing up to FIFA, which also looks like it won’t be using VAR for the Women’s World Cup either. FIFA will doubtlessly argue that the prize money reflects the profits of the women’s tournament and how much younger it is than the men’s tournament, but the fact is if they truly want the WWC to be a marquee tournament then they have to invest in it first. If they want all the teams to be competitive and put on exciting games that attract sponsorship money, then they need to invest in those teams (let’s not forget there are multiple WNTs whose federations explicitly do not care about them).
The expectation that the tournament should become exciting and generate more profit first before FIFA will put more prize money into it is not just unfair, it’s dumb. You can’t properly grow a product without investment. As long as FIFA keeps dragging their heels on properly funding the women’s game it’s clear they’re content to just let the Women’s World Cup be some kind of auxiliary tournament for them. Look at how they’ve scheduled the World Cup FINAL on the same day as the finals of the Gold Cup and Copa America.
Is it likely FIFA will listen to player protests about prize money? Probably not. It’s FIFA. They’re probably very willing to ignore these protests and bet that all these teams will still show up at the World Cup next summer because it’s the tournament for women’s teams, and a good showing there could be critical to gaining support and funding for future years.
Good luck, player associations. And none for you, FIFA.