FIFA have confirmed a $500m boost to investment in women’s football over a three-year period from 2019 to 2022, doubling the initial funding to $1billion.
FIFA had earmarked an initial $500m to invest in the ongoing development of the women’s game, but that budget will see another $500m added to the pot after the increase to funding was approved by the FIFA Congress this week.
FIFA reported earlier this month that 1.12 billion people around the globe watched at least some part of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, with 993.5m tuning into coverage on television alone. It was a 30% increase in viewership from the 2015 tournament in Canada.
But despite the significant growth in popularity, FIFA remains determined in an ongoing promise to ‘work with all stakeholders to take concrete steps to empower girls and women, make football a sport for all and advocate against gender discrimination’.
The key objectives in FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy are to grow female participation in football to 60m by 2026, shape and optimise revenue streams to enhance commercial value, and build the foundations by creating a ‘more sophisticated women’s football ecosystem’.
Earlier this year, president Gianni Infantino spoke of a desire to expand the Women’s World Cup to 32 teams, double World Cup prize money in 2023, and launch a Women’s Club World Cup.
Prize money has been a contentious issue in the women’s game. Doubling the prize fund for 2019 took it to just $30m, less than 10% of the $400m prize fund at the 2018 Men’s World Cup.
Even top flight players around the world are still fighting for basic things like a minimum wage and better rights as employees of football clubs and/or associations.
Just this week in Spain, players representing all 16 clubs in the country’s Primera Division, including reigning champions Atletico Madrid, 2019 Champions League finalists Barcelona and CD Tacon, the team that will become Real Madrid, voted 93% in favour of going on strike.
They are fighting among other things for an annual minimum wage, but have been unable to reach an agreement with Spain’s Association of Women’s Football Clubs in 13 months of talks.
Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper and vice-president of the players’ union’s Women’s Committee Ainhoa Tirapu said: “It’s not just money, we go much further in terms of rights.”