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FIFA boss sparks fury after he tells women players ‘convince us men’ in equal pay fight

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been widely criticised for saying women footballers must “pick the right battles” in the fight for equal pay in the World Cup.

The man who holds the most powerful position in world football said women “have the power to convince us men what we have to do” – appearing to place the responsibility for action at their feet.

The Women’s World Cup draws to a close on Sunday when England face Spain in the final in Sydney, Australia.

The Lionesses will be playing for their share of an increased prize pot of 110 million US dollars (£86.1m) for this tournament.


This is more than three times than what was on offer for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, but still significantly less than the 440 million US dollars (£346m) awarded at the 2022 men’s competition in Qatar.

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Equal pay calls for Lionesses

Speaking in Sydney ahead of the tournament’s conclusion, Mr Infantino said: “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.

“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 men, with FIFA, you will find open doors. Just push the doors. They are open.”

His comments drew criticism from former Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg leading the backlash on X, formerly Twitter.

The Norway and Lyon striker wrote: “Working on a little presentation to convince men. Who’s in?”

One X user said: “Oh yes Gianni Infantino, isn’t it just that easy for women to get equality. We should have just been convincing men. Thanks for telling us women that.”

Another posted: “It’s nice to know that we need to convince men that we deserve equality because according to Infantino they don’t think we do. How is this man still head of FIFA?!”

One wrote: “He’s in the wrong job.” Another added: “Alternatively he could hold the doors open himself.”

And it wasn’t just women who were angered by his remarks.

One male X user wrote: “Wow. Just watched #Infantino comments…so cringe and wrong in 2023. How is football so far behind the rest of the world. Scandalous that women have to ‘convince’ the men to make change.”

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Women’s World Cup viewing rights threatened

Read more:
‘I want to stay’: Sarina Wiegman commits to Lionesses before final
Everything you should know about Spain before they face the Lionesses

It is not the first time the FIFA president has sparked controversy during the Women’s World Cup.

He left the competition after less than a week – after largely basing himself in Qatar for more than a year in the run-up to the men’s tournament.

Two months before the women’s event, Mr Infantino threatened he may be “forced not to broadcast” the World Cup in Europe’s ‘big five’ countries following what he felt were “very disappointing and simply not acceptable” offers from broadcasters, though deals were eventually done.

He said on Friday the Women’s World Cup had generated more than $570 million US dollars (£448m) in revenue and enabled soccer’s global governing body to break even, despite raising the prize purse.

Mr Infantino also said equal pay at the men’s and women’s World Cups would only be a “symbol” that would not “solve anything” if additional development targets for the women’s game are not achieved.


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