FIFA is set to double the prize money offered at the women's World Cup in time for next year's tournament in France, the world football governing body president Gianni Infantino confirmed on Friday.
Speaking at the end of the FIFA Council meeting in the Rwandan capital Kigali, Infantino confirmed an overall contribution of Sh5 billion ($50 million) for the 24 participating nations. The money is double the amount offered in the 2015 edition in Canada.
This is, he said, "more than three times the amount paid in 2015," when the competition was held in Canada. "Concretely this means a 100 percent increase in prize money from Sh1.5 billion ($15 million) to Sh3 billion ($30 million)," Infantino added.
He further added that the funds also included $11.5 million to help the participating nations organise friendly matches before the World Cup. And for the first time, FIFA has decided to reward clubs releasing players for the tournament.
"It’s a very important message for women’s football. It will certainly boost this World Cup even more,” the Swiss-Italian was quoted as saying in reference to the new changes.
However, global players union FifPro didn't seem completely satisfied with the changes and insisted that much more needed to be done towards achieving gender equality in the sport.
"Despite these changes football remains even further from the goal of equality for all World Cup players regardless of gender. 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."
In comparison, the prize money for this year's 32-team men's World Cup in Russia was Sh40.5 billion ($400 million), a Sh4.8 billion ($48 million) increase from 2014. That included Sh3.8 bmillion ($38 million) going to the winners, France.
Next year's World Cup will be staged in France from June 7 to July 7. The 2015 tournament, won by the United States, was the first women's World Cup to involve 24 teams.