Okonjo-Iweala Calls for More Investment in Women’s Football

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization and former Foreign and Finance Minister of Nigeria, delivers her speech during a panel at a G20 Economy and Finance ministers and Central bank governors' meeting in Venice, Italy, Friday, July 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has called for more investment in women’s football, joining the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) to boost revenue in the sport.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, a one-time Nigerian finance minister, made this point during Making Trade Score for Women!, a series of panel discussions held at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, where she spoke alongside FIFA President, Mr Gianni Infantino.

“I hope the broadcasters are listening to what the FIFA President is saying about bidding higher for the Women’s World Cup as this is a real opportunity to support women’s football, and I hope they’ll take you up on your offer,” she said in response to call from the body’s president that the offers from broadcasters were disappointing.

Mr Infantino complained that the European broadcasters offered low rates for the upcoming tournament scheduled to hold in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20.

The FIFA President also added that the time difference to Europe should not be an excuse for the low offers.

“It doesn’t make any economic sense because the viewing figures are there. Maybe, because it is in Australia and New Zealand, it’s not played in prime-time in Europe, but still, it is played at 9 am or 10 am, so it is quite a reasonable time,” he said.

“The offers from broadcasters, mainly in the ‘Big 5’ European countries, are still very disappointing and simply not acceptable based on four criteria,” he said. “Firstly, 100 per cent of any rights fees paid would go straight into women’s football, in our move to promote actions towards equal conditions and pay.

“Secondly, public broadcasters in particular have a duty to promote and invest in women’s sports.

“Thirdly, the viewing figures of the FIFA Women’s World Cup are 50-60% of the men’s FIFA World Cup (which in turn are the highest of any event), yet the broadcasters’ offers in the ‘Big 5’ European countries for the FIFA Women’s World Cup are 20 to 100 times lower than for the men’s FIFA World Cup.

“Finally, and concretely, whereas broadcasters pay USD 100-200 million for the men’s FIFA World Cup, they offer only $1-10 million for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This is a slap in the face of all the great FIFA Women’s World Cup players and indeed of all women worldwide.”

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