Women’s World Cup: “The fight for equality must end at some point”

Status: 03/24/2023 7:37 p.m

FIFA has announced an increase in prize money for the 2023 World Cup. However, the global union for women players demands equality.

For decades, women soccer players had to put up with significant disadvantages compared to men at the World Cup. “There were differences in almost all areas”said Sarah Gregorius on Friday (03/24/2023) at a media event of the global players’ union (FIFPRO).

Gregorius, who won 100 caps for New Zealand and took part in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 World Cups, is now Director of Strategic Affairs for Women’s Football at FIFPRO. In October 2022, she collaborated on demands for FIFA to end the differences in men’s and women’s tournaments.

Sarah Gregorius (right) in action for New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup

“Women had to sleep in pairs in double rooms for weeks”

The 35-year-old spoke of the size of the delegations, for which the world governing body FIFA bears the costs. At the men’s World Cup in 2018, FIFA took 50 people into account, at the women’s World Cup 2019 only 35. This is at the expense of support for the players, for example in the medical field.

“FIFA also only paid for doubles for women”said Gregory. “The opportunities to relax, to have time alone or to have a private phone call when to sleep – all of this sometimes had to be discussed with a roommate for four, five, six weeks.” There were other differences in travel and training opportunities. But now improvement is in sight – at least partially.

FIFA: Equal prize money for women and men for the 2027 World Cup

FIFPRO addressed the demands in October 2022 in a letter to FIFA. They read:

  • Same general conditions at the World Cups – including equal prize money paid out by FIFA to the associations.
  • A worldwide guaranteethat at least 30 percent of the prize money ends up with the players.
  • A binding global collective agreementbetween FIFA and the players, which establishes these obligations.

150 players from 25 countries signed the letter. “The entire national team from Germany was there”, said Gregory. And FIFA responded to the players’ collective demands. After the FIFA Congress in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced that the framework conditions for delegations, training camps, travel and accommodation for the 2023 World Cup would be adjusted.

Infantino also pledged to increase the total prize pool for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand to $110 million. While that’s only a quarter of the men’s prize money at Qatar 2022 ($440 million), it’s roughly triple the amount at France 2019. Infantino added that equal pay should be achieved by the 2027 World Cup. “We can build on this commitment from FIFA”said Gregory.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced an increase in prize money and an adjustment to the general conditions.

Little money for women – criticism of TV stations and sponsors

FIFPRO Secretary General Jonas Baer-Hoffmann referred to the numerous disputes of the past months and years. “Canada, Spain, France and other countries – everywhere players have to fight for equal pay instead of focusing on their careers.” In Canada, the players threatened to go on strike at times. In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly called on the German Football Association (DFB) to pay players equally – so far in vain.

Baer-Hoffmann also agreed with FIFA President Infantino on the role of TV stations and sponsors. “Broadcasters and sponsors sometimes offer us ten to a hundred times the money for the men’s tournaments that they offer for the women’s tournaments”said Infantino in Kigali. “We will no longer sell the women’s World Cup at such prices in the future.” Most of the media rights in Europe for the 2023 World Cup have been awarded, and the process for the German market is currently underway.

Alex Morgan: “Continue to question the terms”

FIFPRO published numerous statements from world-renowned players on Wednesday. “I will continue to challenge the conditions that exist today so that we have an equal seat at the table – and part of that is the working conditions for the World Cup.”, said Alex Morgan from the USA. Englishwoman Lucy Bronze said: “In every country in the world something is still missing or there is something that could be done much better.”

One thought remains for Sarah Gregorius – the actual achievement of level playing field. She said: “At least at the top level, at the World Championships, the fight for equality has to end at some point. It can’t go on forever.”