All figures in this article are in US Dollars

With the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) around the corner, focus is once again falling on the Prize Money to be awarded to participating nations and players. WWC Prize Money is at the centre of an ongoing conversation about issues of fairness, equality, and accountability, but to have that conversation, basic facts must be established.

This PFA Post provides a state of play and corrects common misconceptions about the amounts and percentages of money that FIFA will distribute to its Member Associations (MAs) and the players.

Prize Money v Preparation Funding v Club Benefits

You might have seen different figures reported for the total WWC Prize Money on offer in 2023: for example, $110m and $152m.

That’s because other FIFA distributions are sometimes (wrongly) rolled in alongside Prize Money, creating the inflated figure.

That leads to the common mistake of comparing the WWC Prize Money to FIFA Men’s World Cup (MWC) Prize Money in a way that’s not like-for-like.

To explain, let’s define terms:

Prize Money: Payments to MAs based on the finishing positions of teams at the tournaments. Some of these payments are passed on to players (more on that later).

Preparation Funding: One-off payments from FIFA to the competing MAs paid out before the tournaments, to assist with their costs of participating.

Club Benefits: Payments from FIFA to the clubs of players who play at the tournament, theoretically intended to compensate the clubs for ‘preparing’ the stars of FIFA’s shows.

We’ve seen commentary where a figure of $152m ‘total Prize Money’ for the 2023 WWC is compared with the US$440m Prize Money distributed at the 2022 MWC. This is incorrect, because the $152m includes Preparation Funding and Club Benefits for the WWC, but the US$440m does not include those elements for the men in 2022.

If men’s Preparation Funding and Club Benefits were also included, the total disbursements for the 2022 MWC would be close to $700m.

2023 Women’s World Cup2022 Men’s World Cup
Prize Money$110m$440m
Preparation Funding$31m$48m
Club Benefits$11.5m$209m

So, it is accurate to say that FIFA is offering 25% of Men’s Prize Money for the WWC.

Where did this ‘misconception’ come from?

The top.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced the disbursements for the 2023 WWC at FIFA’s Congress in March 2023. He outlined a three-step strategy for increased investment in the WWC. Step two was the increase in payments for 2023. He said:

“Step two entails a significant increase in the total Prize Money envelope for the 2023 World Cup. It will be over three times more than in 2019 when I was already President. But it will be ten times more than in 2015, before I became President of FIFA. Ten times more. So we move from 15 million in 2015 to 150 million in 2023.”

In 2015, there were no Club Benefits or Preparation Funding for the WWC. The Prize Money component ($15m) was the extent of FIFA’s disbursements at that tournament. It is true that FIFA, under Infantino, introduced those former elements in 2019, but a cynic might say that the misleading “total Prize Money envelope” language is designed to inflate the increase witnessed under Infantino’s reign from about 7x to the 10x he repeated for emphasis.

WWC 2015WWC 2019WWC 2023*
Prize Money$15m$30m$110m
Preparation Funding$0$11.5m$31m
Club Benefits$0$8.5m$11.5m
Total Disbursements$15m$50m$152.5m
*Increase from 24 to 32 teams

FIFA’s web article (in which Infantino’s speech is embedded) does make clear the different components of the disbursements for 2023, but Infantino’s rhetorical spin has evidently passed through to many media reports on the issue. FIFA hasn’t rushed to correct the record.

Not quite ‘equal conditions and services’

The first part of Infantino’s trident of reforms was to do with the off-field environment afforded to participating teams. He said:

“Step one will be equal conditions and services for all men and women playing at a FIFA World Cup.”

This is a reference to FIFA’s decision to cover costs for the same class of travel and accommodation and the same level of staffing for the teams at the 2023 WWC as was afforded to men’s teams at Qatar 2022. This is a welcome development.

But eagle-eyed readers might have noticed in the first table in this Post that Preparation Funding for the 2023 WWC was $31m, less than two thirds of the $48m for 2022 MWC. These totals are split equally across the 32 participating nations at each tournament. Football Australia (FA), for example, received $1.5m to ‘prepare’ the Socceroos for Qatar, and $969k to do likewise for the Matildas in 2023.

This ongoing inequality contradicts Infantino’s claim of “equal conditions”, and also implies, incorrectly, that elite women players require or deserve lesser standards than men to perform at tournaments of identical scale and formats.

The hedge-lined road to equal pay

The third element of Infantino’s speech regarded the “journey” to equal World Cup Prize Money in the 2026-2027 cycle.

This outcome has been widely reported as a fait accompli. However, there is nothing in writing to confirm this will definitely happen.

Can we take them at their word? Well, looking carefully at FIFA’s language, there appears to be an element of hedging around this commitment.

Infantino said at the Congress:

“Our ambition would be, of course, to be able to have equality in payments for the 2026 Men’s and the 2027 Women’s World Cups. This is the objective that we set for ourselves.”

Infantino’s “to be able to” is a caveat related to the commercial performance of the WWC. Infantino spent the rest of his speech urging sponsors and broadcasters to massively increase their offers for WWC rights in part to enable FIFA to afford equal pay.

FIFA’s Secretary General Fatma Samoura made this point more explicitly in May:

“Without the sponsors, without broadcasters, there is very little we can do to match all the requirements and also [pursue] equal pay and treat men and women equally. We need them.”

The reality is FIFA can easily afford to equalise Prize Money right now. After a profitable 2019-2022 cycle, despite the pandemic, FIFA has almost $4 billion sitting idle as reserves. A tenth of that would more than cover the gender gap in 2022-2023.

Perhaps FIFA’s language is an empty threat: a strategic attempt to wedge sponsors and broadcasters by painting equality as contingent on their investments, even though FIFA intends to do the right thing regardless. Perhaps not.

FIFA would certainly catch a lot of blowback if it walked back what is being treated by many as a concrete promise. But public condemnation has not always regulated its decision-making and the absence of a written agreement means progress remains at the whim of FIFA.

FIFA’s new Player Prize Money share: a floor, not a ceiling

Historically, for both Men’s and Women’s World Cups, FIFA has paid Prize Money directly to MAs. There was no guarantee that the players themselves would receive a cent of the rewards their performances had earned.

In countries with effective player representation (such as Australia and the United States), players collectively bargain the share of Prize Money that is passed through from the federation.

In countries without developed player representation, the share might have been agreed informally or just decided unilaterally by the federation. As recently as last year, the fight for a fair share has led to industrial action. In extreme cases, the federation has sought to hold out on paying anything at all.

These scenarios highlight the importance of collective bargaining. But in recognition of the lack of an effective player voice among some competing nations, FIFPRO demanded that FIFA guarantee a substantial share of Prize Money go to players directly. FIFA conceded this point, informing the 32 competing nations on 6th June 2023 of the percentage which players should receive.

However, FIFA’s circular did not acknowledge the impact of collective bargaining agreements which guarantee superior shares to players than what FIFA has outlined. As such, this point has been lost in some reporting.

FIFA’s prescribed player share scales up as the tournament progresses. It said players should receive about 30% for a Group Stage elimination, rising to around 60% for the final four.

But the United States Women’s National Team has agreed with US Soccer that the players will receive 90% of any FIFA Prize Money (they split this share equally with their men’s team and vice versa). This should clearly supersede FIFA’s new policy, which becomes a minimum rather than a mandate.

Australia is slightly different in that the 2019-2023 National Teams Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) says the Matildas and Socceroos should receive 40% of World Cup Group Stage Prize Money and 50% of any additional Prize Money earned by progressing further in their respective tournaments. FIFA’s prescribed player shares undercut the CBA for some outcomes and improve on the CBA for others. The PFA is currently working through this aspect with FA.

Media reports which simply map FIFA’s prescribed player payments onto every team at the tournament, with no mention of collective bargaining, miss the mark.

Fairly defining Prize Money

FIFA’s circular indicated that MAs will receive a “tournament funding allocation … on the basis of team performance”. It said this should be split between two purposes:

  1. an allocation dedicated to the PMA [Participating Member Association) for national team tournament costs and football development investment
  1. an allocation dedicated to player prize money

For the avoidance of any doubt, it should be clear for ongoing discourse around World Cup Prize Money that the total package, and not just the latter component, constitutes ‘Prize Money’ in the accepted sense.

That’s clearly FIFA’s intention. If you add up the payments FIFA has prescribed for its MAs and players (x23) for each finishing position, the total is $110m, the collective Prize Money pool it has trumpeted since March.

The share of the overall prize pool which goes to each finishing position, when the MA and player components are added, is exactly 25% of the equivalent finishing position at the 2022 MWC.

FIFA’s proposal

Finishing positionTeamsFIFA prescribed per MATotal for MAsFIFA prescribed per playerPer squad (x23)Total for playersMA + PlayersTotal poolPlayer share
R168$1,870,000$14,960,000$60,000$1,380,000$11,040,000$3,250,000$26,000,000 42.5%
TOTAL 32 $61,010,000 $48,990,000 $110,000,00044.5%

The players’ role and ‘the FIFA problem’

In the rush to benchmark women’s Prize Money against the men’s, it should not be forgotten that the men’s Prize Money has been unilaterally decided by FIFA with no stakeholder consultation and no transparency as to how it decides the figures.

While the Prize Money has surely increased over time, that doesn’t mean it represents a fair share of the increasingly massive commercial value the players generate on behalf of the world game.

By contrast, through collective bargaining, Australia’s National Teams players have a revenue-share model with FA which ensures they receive a set proportion of the revenues they contribute to.

For FIFA’s President and Council Members, the only calculation is a political one: can they redistribute enough of FIFA’s wealth to get re-elected when the MAs occasionally vote (players, fans, and other stakeholders don’t get a formal say).

In the PFA’s upcoming report on the Socceroos’ 2022 World Cup campaign, we call this ‘the FIFA problem’, but the issue of unaccountable global sporting bodies is gaining increased focus across the board, most recently in golf.

The significantly improved conditions for the 2023 WWC do represent a breakthrough in this regard; FIFA did eventually accede to FIFPRO’s demand to be heard on behalf of the tournament’s players, and some of its positions were taken up.

There was no formal mechanism which brought FIFA to the table or made it give ground, rather it was public pressure and fear of player backlash which likely forced its hand. This pressure was built over time by a determination of players to be treated with fairness and respect, most notably through the PFA’s and Matildas’ Our Goal is Now campaign for equal World Cup Prize Money in 2019.

The ironic thing is that even with FIFA’s guaranteed share of 44.5% of WWC Prize Money going to players, the majority of the benefit from increased Prize Money will flow to MAs which have done little, at least publicly, to contribute to the uplift.

Whilst true equality was not achieved for this World Cup, to the extent that it was a victory, it was a victory achieved by players. FIFA’s glossy pronouncements should not disguise this fact.