U.S. national-team and Seattle Reign FC player Rapinoe is dismayed by what she sees as ongoing issues of inequality in soccer and questions how much governing body FIFA cares.
FRISCO, Texas – With the Women’s World Cup less than eight months away, U.S. national-team forward Megan Rapinoe is dismayed by what she sees as ongoing issues of inequality in soccer.
From uncertainty about the use of video review and the amount of prize money, to scheduling other tournament finals on the same day as the championship match, equity issues are getting more attention as the World Cup looms.
From Rapinoe’s standpoint, that’s symptomatic of the short shrift paid to the women’s game by FIFA, soccer’s governing body.
“And that’s not to say they (FIFA) don’t do anything. They obviously do things for the women’s game. But in the way that they truly care about the men’s game, they don’t truly care about the women’s game,” said Rapinoe, who plays for Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League.
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The United States qualified for the World Cup with a 6-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday in the semifinals of the CONCACAF women’s championship tournament. The top three finishers earn spots in the World Cup, so the U.S. and Canada secured berths with semifinal victories. The two teams will meet in the championship match Wednesday night.
Rapinoe, 33, has been one of the most vocal U.S. players. She was among those who criticized FIFA in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup in Canada because the tournament was played on artificial turf, which was considered a slight to the women.
FIFA has been criticized for scheduling the Women’s World Cup final on the same day as the men’s Copa America final and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
There have been calls for FIFA to use VAR, or Video Assistant Referees, at the tournament in France. VAR was used at the men’s World Cup for the first time in Russia.
Prize money has been an issue since 2015, when the U.S. women’s team received $2 million for winning the World Cup, out of a pool of $15 million. The prize pool for the men’s World Cup in Russia was $400 million.
Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s chief women’s football officer, responded to some of the criticism last week when the organization released its first global strategy for women’s soccer. The wide-ranging policy seeks to grow the women’s game overall.
Bareman confirmed World Cup prize money would rise, but did not reveal a figure.
Sports Illustrated reported last week the prize pool would be doubled, to $30 million. Rapinoe wanted to know what metric was used in determining the amount — especially in light of the disparity with the men’s.
“I mean, I think that they’re probably looking for pats on the back for the increase,” Rapinoe said. “They’re not getting any from here. I mean, until they’re really going to take meaningful steps to truly show that they’re caring about the women’s game in a sort of deeper way, I don’t know. Fifteen million is nothing to them. … If they wanted to just sort of arbitrarily do it, they could increase it by $100 million.”