The successful conduct of the FIFA women’s World Cup that saw Spain emerge as champions after defeating England in an engaging final has raised many questions about gender discrimination, pay parity and deep-rooted patriarchy. FIFA chief Gianni Infantino’s advice to women to pick the ‘right fights’ and ‘convince us men what we have to do’ in his bid to brush aside the question of equal prize money was understandably panned as patronising and uncalled for. This World Cup saw record crowds in attendance at the venues in New Zealand and Australia and an equally large TV viewership. Teams mesmerised audiences with their skill and perseverance. Women football players get no advantages. They play the full 90 minutes and extra time if needed, adhere to the same rules as men, yet their prize money of $152 million is a pittance compared to the $440 million prize money on offer for the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar. This after FIFA tripled the prize money from the 2019 women’s World Cup which stood at a mere $50 million. The women’s World Cup generated $570 million in revenue, helping it to break even, Infantino admitted.
Though football is arguably the most popular sport worldwide, it is generally seen as a man’s game. Women have to work extra hard and fight many battles against the largely male football administrations in their countries to get their due. Many teams in this tournament had to cope with lack of support and facilities as well as inadequate pay. Despite that, many hitherto unrecognised national teams played far beyond expectations, ousting well known names from the tournament. If the 2023 World Cup proved one thing it was that women’s football is here to stay. Pay parity is the next step in their journey.