Gianni Infantino sparks World Cup backlash with comments on football equality

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has sparked a backlash ahead of the World Cup finals after advising women on the „battle” for equality in football, saying they „have the power to convince men of what we should do”.

As England and Spain battle it out for football’s biggest prize on Sunday, the global sports chief told the second FIFA women’s football conference in Sydney that they „need to start treating women and men the same”.

„I say to all women — you know I have four daughters, so I have some at home — you have the power to change,” Infantino told the audience.

The head of the sport’s world governing body told women to „pick the right battles” and „they have the power to convince men what we should and shouldn’t do”.

„You do it, you do it,” Infantino added. “With me, with FIFA you will find open doors. Push the doors and they will open.

Women have been sidelined in the world’s favorite sport for decades as male-dominated soccer officials prioritized the men’s game for investment and marketing.

The Women’s World Cup is set to attract 2 billion viewers worldwide, with nearly 2 million tickets sold for matches in Australia and New Zealand. According to Infantino, the tournament grossed $570 million.

Norwegian star and Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg was among those who responded to Infantino’s comments.

„Working on a little presentation to convince men,” he wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. „Who’s in?”

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Jackie Oatley, football commentator, said, „We’ve been fighting this kind of stupidity for decades. So, very poor from Infantino.”

This is not the first time Infantino has stirred controversy with his comments. In Doha last year, he hit back at critics of Qatar hosting the men’s World Cup.

„I feel Qatari today,” he told reporters gathered at the match. “Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] A migrant worker. I feel like them because I know what it’s like. . . to bully.”

FIFA started hosting the Women’s World Cup in 1991, whereas the men’s competition started in 1930. Infantino earlier plans to introduce equal prize money for the 2026 men’s and 2027 women’s tournaments.

However, on Friday he warned that equal prize money at the World Cup was a „slogan”.

„It doesn’t solve anything because it’s a month every four years and there are a few players out of thousands and thousands of players,” he said. „We have to move toward equality, but we have to do it in real terms.”

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