FIFA president Gianni Infantino tells women to ‘pick the right battles’ and ‘convince’ men how to develop their football system, in bizarre speech ahead of World Cup final
- Gianni Infantino delivered a speech at a congress ahead of the World Cup final
- He called on women to ‘pick the right battles’ in their pursuit of equal pay
- WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 1 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has declared that women must ‘convince’ men how their football system should be developed and ‘pick the right battles’, in a bizarre speech at a World Cup congress.
Infantino told women that campaigning for equal pay was the ‘wrong’ battle for them, lavished praise on his own organisation and attacked the media in a number of countries for failing to support the women’s game by not sending journalists to this tournament.
He said: ‘I say to all the women, that you have the power to change. Pick the right battles. Pick the right fights. You have the power to change. You have the power to convince us men what we have to do and what we don’t have to do.
‘You do it. Just do it. With men, with FIFA, you will find open doors. Just push the doors. They are open. And do it also at national level, in every country, at continental level, in every confederation. Just keep pushing, keep the momentum, keep dreaming, and let’s really go for a full equality.’
Infantino seemed unaware of how patronising his comments were, with their presumption that men call the shots and need to be convinced of the importance of the women’s game.
FIFA’s Gianni Infantino has called on women to ‘pick the right battles’ in pursuit of equal pay
Female players have called to be paid equally to male stars like Lionel Messi (left) and Kylian Mbappe (right) at future World Cups
Infantino suggested women campaigning for equal pay is the ‘wrong’ battle and ‘would not solve anything’
He attacked Italian media – declaring that they had 39 journalists in Qatar for the men’s World Cup, which Italy didn’t qualify for, yet none here, despite Italy’s women being competitors when Italy did not.
‘It cannot be that there were over 30 Danish or Swiss journalists in Qatar and less than 10, even less than five, here in Australia and New Zealand,’ Infantino said. ‘We have to start treating men and women, or women and men, in the same way.’
On equal pay, Infantino said: ‘That would not solve anything. It might be a symbol but it would not solve anything, because it’s one month every four years and it’s a few players out of the thousands and thousands of players. We need to keep the momentum. We need to push it. We need to go for equality but we have to do it for real. And you, here in this room, all the women in this room, you have the power to do it. So believe in it.’
Infantino congratulated himself on expanding the Women’s World Cup to 32 nations.
He said: ‘I remember when we decided to do that of course the usual critics, which are less and less, were saying it’s not going to work and the level is too different. There would be 15-0 scores, it will be bad for women’s football and its image.
‘I’m sorry but FIFA was right. FIFA was right. As it happens quite often in the last years, FIFA was right once more. We had eight debutants. We had many countries around the world who thought suddenly they had a chance to participate.’
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