U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe has slammed FIFA for a lack of investment in the women’s game and a lack of attention that led to three major finals all being scheduled on Sunday.
The men’s Copa America final between Brazil and Peru, as well as the men’s Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico will also take place on Sunday, though they will at least be played at different times of the day to ensure no there is no overlap.
Still, Rapinoe is not happy that a seeming lack of care and coordination between FIFA, Concacaf and Conmebol resulted in the women’s game not having its own day.
“That’s a terrible idea to put everything on the same day,” Rapinoe said in her pre-match press conference. “Obviously there are two other finals going on but this is the World Cup final. This is like, ‘cancel everything day.'
“I don’t know how that happened,” Rapinoe continued. “I think I heard somewhere that they just didn’t think about it, which is the problem that you just didn’t think about it when the World Cup final is set so far in advance.
“It’s actually unbelievable. So no, I don’t think we feel the same level of respect certainly that FIFA has for the men and just in general.”
CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, who is also a FIFA vice president, admitted to Sports Illustrated earlier this year that he made a mistake in his scheduling of the Gold Cup final.
"It was simply an error," Montagliani said. "[There] was no intent, obviously. I totally understand why some fans were disappointed. I was a chairman of the Women's World Cup, so I totally understand that.
"But by the time the error was kind of brought out, it was very difficult for many, many reasons to just even move one day. And we tried.”
Rapinoe also responded to FIFA president Gianni Infantino saying on Friday that he intends to double the prize money for the next Women’s World Cup in 2023, changing the total amount awarded from $30 million to $60m.
Infantino’s announcement was criticised by some, who noted that the prize money for the men’s World Cup is increasing from $400m in 2018 to $440m in 2022, meaning the increase of $40m is actually greater than the women’s increase of $30m.
Rapinoe joined in the questioning of FIFA’s plan and priorities.
“It certainly is not fair,” she said. “We should double it now and then use that money to double it or quadruple it for the next time.
“If you really care about each game in the same way, are you letting the gap grow?
“I understand that for a lot of different reasons the men’s game is financially far advanced than the women’s game but if you really care, are you letting the gap grow? Are you scheduling three finals on the same day? No you’re not.”
In a demonstration of the effort FIFA makes on the men's side, Rapinoe noted the major steps the organization has taken to ensure the next men’s World Cup takes place in its chosen location, including moving the tournament from summer to winter.
“We’re making a World Cup in Qatar happen,” Rapinoe said. “That’s the kind of care they have about the men’s World Cup considering all the issues they’re having there.”