Women's World Cup: Unequal Prize Money 'A Human Rights Breach'

Women’s World Cup: Unequal Prize Money ‘A Human Rights Breach’, Says Lawyers

FIFA is likely breaching its own human rights policies by awarding women footballers only 7.5 percent of the prize money men receive, legal experts say. 

Three human rights lawyers have found that it is “strongly arguable” the international football governing body is breaching at least two of the clauses included in its 2016 and 2017 statutes.

The lawyers, from Doughty Street Chambers, were called on to give their opinion by Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), who have long campaigned for pay equality. The PFA’s chief executive John Didulica said it reserves the rights of the players to take legal action to resolve the pay gap.

The debate over the disparity was once again brought to the fore after the United States women’s team were crowned World Cup champions on Sunday, defeating the Netherlands 2-0.

The crowd erupted in chants of “equal pay” as confetti poured down upon the team, purple-haired co-captain Megan Rapinoe holding its trophy aloft.

The team was awarded $4m for reaching the top spot. While France, the 2018 men’s world champions, were awarded $38m.

What Is The Pay Gap?

Last year, Fifa decided to set the prize money for this year’s women’s world cup at $30m – double that of 2015.

However, the prize money for the 2018 men’s world cup by comparison stood at $400m. And the gap in prize money between the women and men’s competitions is widening.

Female players are worse affected by the lesser prize money because more are dependent on the income from their national team duties than their male counterparts, according to lawyers from Doughty Street Chambers.

Human rights lawyers Keina Yoshida, Heather Williams QC and Jennifer Robinson have said it is “strongly arguable” Fifa’s prize money disparity breaches its own human rights policy. Image Credit: Doughty Street Chambers.

Fifa adopted its own Human Rights Policy in 2017 and updated its statutes the year prior.

Human rights lawyers have found that the pay disparity could be in breach of Articles 3 and 4 of the statutes.

Article 3 of the statute commits the body to respecting and promoting the protection of all internationally recognised human rights.

While Article 4 prohibits any discrimination on the basis of gender among a number of other characteristics.

What Is Fifa’s Response?

On Friday, Fifa President Gianni Infantino announced proposals that the prize money for the Women’s World Cup be doubled to $60m as well as expanding the number of teams from 24 to 32.

He hailed France’s tournament as the “the best women’s World Cup ever” and added that Fifa would increase its investment in the game to $1bn over the next four years.

RightsInfo approached Fifa for further comment.

Featured Image Credit: Ruben Lamers / Flickr. 

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About the Author

Aaron Walawalkar

News and Digital Editor
Aaron is an NCTJ-accredited multimedia journalist focussing on human rights. His extensive reporting on rough sleeping in east London has been nominated for multiple awards. He has worked for regional and national newspapers and produced illustrations, infographics and videos for humanitarian organisation RedR UK. View all posts by Aaron Walawalkar.
Women’s World Cup: Unequal Prize Money ‘A Human Rights Breach’, Says Lawyers
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