US soccer star says FIFA doesn’t do enough to help women’s game

With the Women’s World Cup around the corner, American soccer star Megan Rapinoe called out the sport’s leadership for not doing enough to level the pitch for men and women players.

Rapinoe and the US women’s national team are vying for their fourth World Cup win in France, host of the tournament starting June 7.The team beat Mexico, 3-0, Sunday in their World Cup sendoff game.

Rapinoe, one of the team’s co-captains, acknowledged “strides” toward better treatment of women in response to a reporter’s question about gender parity during a media event Friday.

However, she added, “the incremental change that we’ve seen is just not enough.”

“For the resources and for the ability that I feel like FIFA has to implement that change, I think they’re not doing nearly enough,” she said.

FIFA has played up its increase of the women’s prize to $30 million from $15 million in 2015. This year’s winners will bring home $4 million compared to the $2 million that Rapinoe and the US women’s national team, Team USA, won in 2015.

Yet the overall pot for the 2018 men’s World Cup was $400 million, with France taking home $38 million as the winners.

Considering what Rapinoe described as FIFA’s “essentially unlimited resources,” and a historic lack of investment in women’s games, “I would like to see a major paradigm shift,” she said.

It’s not just about prize money, Rapinoe said. It’s about investing in women’s sports in a way that doesn’t simply replicate how things are done on the men’s side, she said.

“To replicate a system that kept women down for a long time is not best way to go about it,” she said.

Rapinoe has long been involved in the fight for equality in sports. She was one of five players to accuse US soccer’s governing body of wage discrimination, which led to a new collective bargaining agreement in 2017.

She is one of 28 players suing the United States Soccer Federation, alleging the men’s national team earns more than they do even though they play more games than the men’s team and win more matches.

Rapinoe also criticized FIFA for scheduling two regional tournaments on the same day as the Women’s World Cup finals, potentially detracting attention from the women.

“It’s ridiculous and disappointing, to be honest,” she said.