FRISCO, Texas — On the day before they meet Jamaica with a berth in next summer’s World Cup on the line (8 p.m. ET Sunday, FS1, UDN), U.S. women’s national team stars Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn took aim at FIFA over the changes in prize money for the 2019 women’s World Cup.
SI.com and Fox Sports TV broke the news on Thursday night that FIFA is set to double the total prize money for the women’s World Cup, from $15 million in 2015 to $30 million in 2019.
“I think they’re probably looking for pats on the back for the increase, and they’re not getting any from here,” said Rapinoe. “Until they’re going to take meaningful steps to truly show they’re caring about the women’s game in a sort of deeper way, it’s like, I don’t know, $15 million is nothing to them. It could mean something to us. It’s a significant amount of money, I get that, for the teams, but where are they even pulling this number from? If they just want to sort of arbitrarily do it, they could increase it by $100 million and wouldn’t miss it.”
Sauerbrunn took note that the gap in total prize money between the women’s and men’s World Cups has actually grown in the past four years from $342.1 million to $370 million. (The 2018 men’s World Cup had $400 million in total prize money.)
“If FIFA’s mission is to grow the game for both the men and the women, then they need to incentivize these [national] federations to put more money into their women’s programs,” Sauerbrunn said. “In fact, they should probably over-incentivize so that the gap which is getting bigger actually closes faster. And if that were to happen, to make sure that the money that does go to those federations actually goes to making the women’s programs better.
“So do I think FIFA increasing their prize money for the women by 100% is good? It’s not good enough. Not even close.”
The 2018 men’s World Cup generated $6.1 billion in revenues for FIFA, which reported $100 million in profits for the four-year cycle that ends in 2018. FIFA expects to have $1.7 billion in cash and assets by the end of 2018.
The record for revenues at a women’s World Cup is the almost $73 million generated by the 2011 tournament in Germany.
FIFA is a nonprofit organization whose main function is to promote and grow the game of soccer worldwide. It is not a for-profit company like professional sports teams and leagues.
In addition to the changes in prize money for the women’s World Cup, FIFA is also set to do what it does for the men’s World Cup by introducing payout compensation to teams competing in the tournament for preparation costs ($11.5 million) and to women’s clubs in return for using their players ($8.5 million).
Rapinoe doesn’t think it’s enough. “I said this maybe last year: That FIFA doesn’t show they really care about the women’s game,” Rapinoe said on Saturday. “That’s not to say they don’t do anything. They obviously do things for the women’s game. But in the way they truly care about the men’s game, they don’t truly care about the women’s game.”