**FIFA President Reneges on Commitment to Pay Women’s World Cup Players**
The Women’s World Cup, which begins today, has been overshadowed by the news that the players may not receive the promised payment. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has gone back on his commitment to distribute a portion of the prize money directly to the players. This announcement, made just before the tournament’s kickoff, is seen as a setback in the fight to close the gender pay gap in soccer.
**Initial Payment Model and the Gender Pay Gap in Soccer**
Under the initial payment model, each participating player would have received $30,000, with the payout increasing based on the team’s performance. The winning team’s players would have earned $270,000. This payment would have been significant, considering that the average salary for professional women’s soccer players globally is only $14,000.
Despite this, the gender pay gap in soccer remains a pressing issue. The global union FIFPRO’s report in 2023 revealed that almost one-third of women are not paid by their federations, and around two-thirds have to take leave or unpaid leave from their second job to participate in tournaments. Last year, women earned only 25 cents for every dollar earned by men at the World Cup, according to a CNN analysis. This figure is even worse than the global average across all industries, where women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, as reported by the United Nations.
Another FIFPRO report highlighted the vast income disparity between top-performing women and men. It found that top-performing women earn in a year what top-performing men earn in a month.
**Historical Context: The Fight for Equal Pay in Soccer**
Efforts to achieve equal pay in soccer date back to the 1990s when nine players on the U.S. women’s team went on strike before the Olympics. Currently, players like U.S. star Megan Rapinoe are leading the fight for equal pay.
In 2019, the U.S. Women’s National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. After nearly three years, the two parties reached an agreement that ensured equal pay for the women’s and men’s national teams, including at World Cups.
**Uncertainty Surrounding Payments to Women’s World Cup Players**
While FIFA had initially committed to distributing a portion of the prize money directly to the players, a recent conference revealed that this guarantee could no longer be made. FIFA stated that it was in talks with national football federations regarding the issue. In the past, federations have received the prize money and were encouraged to distribute it to the players, but this hasn’t always happened. Under FIFA’s original commitment, $49 million of this year’s record-breaking $110 million prize pool would have bypassed the federations and gone directly to the players.
FIFA President Infantino clarified that payments would be made through the associations, who would then be responsible for ensuring the relevant payments to their players.
**The Women’s World Cup 2023 and the Path Ahead**
The Women’s World Cup is set to begin on Thursday, July 20, and will run until August 20. The tournament will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand, with 32 teams competing in 64 matches.
As the spotlight shines on the Women’s World Cup, the issue of equal pay remains unresolved. The decision by FIFA to backtrack on its commitment to pay the players directly has brought the gender pay gap in soccer back into focus. The future path to closing this gap and achieving equal pay for women in soccer remains uncertain. However, the determination and advocacy of players like Megan Rapinoe and the collective support for equal pay continue to push this important issue to the forefront of the sport.