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FIFA put plans for new tournaments on hold

FIFA approves prize money increase for Women’s World Cup

KIGALI, Oct 27, (Agencies): FIFA President Gianni Infantino has delayed any decision over his plans for a lucrative new Club World Cup and global Nations League amid widespread opposition, instead setting up a taskforce to further look into the proposals.

Speaking at a press conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali, where the FIFA Council has been meeting, Infantino said the taskforce will present “concrete proposals” at a meeting in Miami next March.

The plans have been harshly criticized by opponents who say the international calendar is already overcrowded and have accused the FIFA president of using the projects to help win votes for re-election in June next year.

A source told AFP that Infantino stepped back from adopting the new competitions on Friday when UEFA delegates threatened to walk out of the meeting.

That is after the World Leagues Forum, a grouping of professional leagues, sent a letter to Infantino demanding that no final decision be taken in Kigali and lamenting the lack of any consultation. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has also been critical of the plans.

“I am happy to have contributed to peace in the world today if some were seeing it so dramatic,” Infantino remarked.

“Everyone agrees the Club World Cup needs to be revamped, everyone in the world.

“There are some who have different interests. We were not going to decide today how to revamp them, there are different options on the table.

“FIFA’s duty is to organize competitions, so I don’t understand why we cannot talk about them.”

FIFA will raise the prize money for the Women’s World Cup from $15 million to $30 million starting with next year’s edition in France, president Gianni Infantino announced on Friday, though critics immediately said the increase was not enough.

Following a FIFA council meeting in Rwanda, the Swiss-Italian also said that $20 million would be made available for pre-tournament preparations, meaning that $50 million in total would be allocated across the 24 participating nations.

The prize money is double the amount awarded in the 2015 World Cup in Canada and for the first time clubs will be rewarded for their players taking part in the tournament, as is the case in the men’s edition.

“It’s a very important message for women’s football. It will certainly boost this World Cup even more,” Infantino told a news conference.

However, global footballers’ union FIFpro said the changes were not enough to redress the inequality between men’s and women’s football worldwide.

“FIFPro notes the willingness of FIFA to increase prize money for the Women’s World Cup and make structural improvements to support women’s football. However, despite these changes football remains even further from the goal of equality for all World Cup players regardless of gender,” a FIFpro statement said.

“In reality, the changes actually signify an increase in the gap between men’s and women’s prize money. This regressive trend appears to contravene FIFA’s statutory commitment to gender equality.

“We strongly support our members, women’s national team players in multiple countries, who have written to FIFA in recent days expressing their dismay about the distribution of prize money.”

Players’ unions in Australia, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand had written to world soccer’s governing body to protest that even with women’s prize money being doubled, the rewards in the men’s game still dwarf the new amounts.

The total prize money for this year’s men’s World Cup in Russia was $400m, with champions France receiving $38m.

The letter from Australia’s PFA argued: “For the group stage alone, Socceroos players have shared $2.4 million for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, while the Matildas will only share $0.225 million, less than 10 percent.

“If the Matildas are to become World Champions, they will only receive 50 percent of what the Socceroos received for qualifying for Russia.”

US women, the world’s most successful squad and winners of three of the seven Women’s World Cups, also called for an increase in prize money.

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