FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Friday that women should “pick the right fights” to “convince us men what we have to do” to bring equality to football.
Infantino was speaking in Sydney ahead of the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday between Spain and England.
“I say to all the women — and you know I have four daughters, so I have a few at home — that you have the power to change,” he told FIFA’s Women’s Football Convention, to tepid applause. “Pick the right battles. Pick the right fights.
“You have the power to change, to convince us men what we have to do and what we don’t have to do. You do it. Just do it.”
Norway’s striker Ada Hegerberg responded to Infantino’s comments on Twitter by writing: “Working on a little presentation to convince men. Who’s in?” In his speech, Infantino added: “With men, with FIFA, you will find open doors. Just push the doors, they are open.”
FIFA tripled the prize money on offer at this World Cup compared to 2019, and the total pot which also covers compensation for clubs releasing players is up from $50 million four years ago to $152 million now.
Nevertheless, the prize pot still pales in comparison to the $440 million dished out at the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar. “This World Cup generated over $570 million in revenue and so we broke even,” said the 53-year-old Infantino.
“We didn’t lose any money and we generated the second-highest income of any sport — besides of course the men’s World Cup — at a global stage.”
He added: “This shows our strategy was not too bad, but of course we still have to do much better. “But we are on the right path.”
Infantino hit back at critics of the decision to expand the Women’s World Cup to a biggest-ever 32 teams, up from 24 in 2019. There were fears the greater number of teams would mean some weaker sides and therefore some lopsided scorelines.
But the World Cup saw several of the higher-ranked teams dumped out early and Jamaica, Morocco and South Africa all reached the knockout stage for the first time.
“They were saying: it’s not going to work, the level is too different, you will have 15-0 scores, it will be bad for women’s football and its image,” Infantino said of FIFA’s move to expand the tournament to 32 teams.
“But I’m sorry, FIFA was right, FIFA was right. “We had many countries around the world who thought they now have a chance to participate. “Everyone now believes there is a chance to shine on the global stage.”