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‘Absolutely equal already’: FIFA boss defends women’s game comments after criticism

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has told Sky News that men should not be “imposing what they think women football should be” and copying the men’s game in a “bad way”.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the Women’s World Cup final, Mr Infantino said FIFA was “a pioneer” investing in women’s football – contrary to criticism of the governing body.

It comes after the boss of world football remarked that women need to “convince us men” what is needed and to “pick the right fights” that had been “misinterpreted or misused” – highlighting parts of the world that are not convinced of the need to invest in women’s football.

Asked about the backlash, Mr Infantino urged critics: “To come, to join, to speak together, to move ahead together, to believe in what we do, to believe in doing the right things. Together we are all stronger and together we can change things.”


He insisted conditions for men and women playing for national teams were “absolutely equal already” – while accepting “things have to change further” around the world.

England players celebrate in the dressing room after their win

Sydney is preparing for the conclusion of the biggest-ever Women’s World Cup – with England and Spain meeting in their first final on Sunday – after record audiences and revenue of $570m (£448m) anticipated.

In a conversation near the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Mr Infantino told Sky News: “What I would like to see is indeed women to tell us how women’s football should be rather than men imposing what they think women’s football should be, often copying men’s football and maybe copying in a bad way.

“So we want to pioneer. As far as FIFA is concerned, and as far as I am concerned, I think we have shown with the facts around the world that we are very open, that we are transparent, that our doors are wide, wide open.

“We know as well that not all of us everywhere in the world are open and together with women… everyone together, all those who have the same philosophy, things have to change further still, after the battles we all made to change many things.

“Well together – let’s fight to open all those doors that are not yet open – to make them as open as the FIFA ones and open them even more and get to where we all want to get to.

“I think if we do that, if we go on together, the results will be even much better than this fantastic World Cup, which was already great.”

Read more:
Problem-solving Lionesses will only settle for victory in final
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How Wiegman is turning over every stone to find a path to glory

Spain celebrate their place in the final after beating Sweden
Spain celebrate their place in the final after beating Sweden

But Mr Infantino has faced criticism for the number of games he has attended at the women’s tournament, compared to the men’s finals in Qatar last year.

And the speech he made on Friday has taken some of the headlines away from the final at Stadium Australia – with scrutiny focusing on his tone when talking about growing women’s football.

In response, Mr Infantino said: “Sometimes it’s important that people listen to the entirety of a discussion, of reasoning, because sometimes – indeed taken out of context – some words might be misinterpreted or misused.

“I think that what FIFA has done in the last few years has been acting really as a pioneer in women’s football.

“We have been increasing the prize money 10 times compared to when I started.”

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FIFA urged to equal prize money

He added: “The conditions for men and women players of national teams are absolutely equal already – Qatar World Cup for the men’s, Australia-New Zealand World Cup for the women. Exactly the same condition. Because it’s global, because it’s how it has to be.

“We are pushing it further. We are working towards a path of equal pay.”

The Lionesses will be playing for their share of an increased prize pot of $110m (£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 $440m (£346m) awarded at the 2022 men’s competition in Qatar.


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