The Gender Pay Gap: How FIFA Dropped the Ball

The pursuit for equal pay has been a struggle for those striving for gender equality. This struggle is no different in football where female players face an uphill battle in gaining equal remuneration. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has remained markedly silent on the issue of the pay gap. However, FIFA’s recent adoption of an extensive human rights framework explicitly includes gender equality, and thus, equal pay.

This article examines how FIFA’s new human rights framework and investment programmes can support efforts to close the pay gap. The investment and revenue of the men’s and women’s World Cup tournaments will be examined to illustrate both the pay gap’s existence and the difficulties in addressing it. This article argues this human rights framework is a positive step towards gender equality, however, it must be embedded in FIFA’s governing bodies before equal pay can be remedied.

Whilst FIFA may be responsible for the World Cup prize money, FIFA’s member associations are accountable for distributing money to the players. Considering this, this article looks to the Football Federation Australia (FFA) as an example of the difficulties facing member associations that try to close the pay gap nationally. On this basis, this article finds that due to the dynamics between FIFA and its member associations, pay parity cannot be achieved by a member association when its purse strings are controlled by FIFA.