Women’s national team players request that FIFA equalize World Cup prize money and establish a global collective bargaining agreement.

Women’s national team players request that FIFA equalize World Cup prize money and establish a global collective bargaining agreement.

Four months before the 2023 Women’s World Cup, 150 players from 25 national teams signed a statement urging FIFA to equalize prize money, conditions, and resources and codify those values in a worldwide collective labor agreement.

FIFPro, the global players’ union that represents 65,000 professional footballers, helped submit the letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino in October, before the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar.

The letter, signed by players from every continent, including Australia and current world champions USA, urges FIFA to implement three major reforms that “set a path for women’s footballers to have viable economic prospects through FIFA’s reach, resources, and already-stated statutory commitments to non-discrimination”.

These improvements include integrating equality into World Cup laws and conditions including tournament travel, staff delegation size, and facility and training location access.

“So that our sport continues to develop professionally,” the players want a structural guarantee of at least 30% of Women’s World Cup prize money.

Instead of giving players prize money, FIFA gives it to national federations, which determine what to do with it. This has led to federations spending tournament fees for other reasons and players receiving no payment.

“FIFA has stated that ‘women’s football is the single biggest growth potential in football today, and it remains a high priority’. “The enthusiasm and expanding popularity of the sport provide huge untapped possibilities,” the letter states.

Despite that, the global game remains “profoundly unequal” for women, with players “coming in… as amateurs or semi-professional, which weakens their preparation and, in turn, the quality of the football we witness on the pitch” even at its largest championships.

The letter also notes that the men’s World Cup’s massive prize pool encourages federations to prioritize men’s programs over women’s teams.

The men’s World Cup has far more prize money than the women’s. Last year’s World Cup in Qatar awarded $US440 million ($655 million), with Argentina getting $US42 million.

At the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, the USA won $US1 million from a $US30 million prize pool.

FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura said the 2023 edition would likely “double” the 2019 prize money to $US69 million, but it will still be many factors lower than the men’s pot, which is set to climb for the expanded 2026 event.

FIFA has equalized World Cup prize money before.

Before the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) promoted #OurGoalisNow, advocating that the governing body, which has billions in earnings despite being a non-profit, should instantly double the amount offered to women’s teams.

The 2019 champions USA fought their own federation in public to address historical imbalances in World Cup conditions, resources, and prize money, which they partly won last year after a lengthy legal struggle.

FIFA predicted $US11 billion in earnings from 2023 to 2026, including the women’s and men’s World Cups.

The 2023 event in Australia and New Zealand would cost $US435 million, less than one-quarter of the men’s World Cup in Qatar.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup drew over 1 billion viewers, a number FIFA expects to rise this year. This is the first time sponsorship and broadcast rights have been negotiated separately for the two competitions.

The players’ letter’s main request is a global collective bargaining agreement. Australia, the USA, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Norway have national collective bargaining agreements, although not all women’s national teams have union representation to negotiate with their federations.

Hence, FIFPro is negotiating with FIFA to establish a worldwide framework that protects and empowers these players while working with their individual federations on contracts, payment structures, minimum standards, pregnancy policies, medical insurance, and resourcing.

Australia and the US have two of the most powerful collective bargaining agreements in women’s international football, combining commercial profits (and, in the US, FIFA-distributed prize money) and splitting it equally between men’s and women’s teams.

The PFA and Australia’s national teams are negotiating their next collective bargaining agreement, which expires during the Women’s World Cup.

The players’ letter does not set a deadline or threaten boycotts or strikes, which some women’s national teams have done recently due to management and federation concerns.

“Accelerating the growth and development of women’s football on and off the pitch is FIFA’s top goal,” a spokeswoman stated.

To do so, FIFA is investing substantial time and money in changing competitions, increasing the game’s commercial value, upgrading women’s development programs, and professionalizing women’s football, both on and off the pitch.

Australia’s PFA has commended FIFPro and players’ efforts to build on 2019’s principles.

“Despite the challenges, players domestically and abroad continue to demonstrate their solidarity and dedication to advance the interests of players and the broader industry,” co-chief executive Kate Gill said.

Development requires a commitment to shared ideals like fairness, dignity, and respect.

We will work with FIFPro and other unions to improve the industry for players and the sport.

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