On June 7, 2019, at the end of FIFA’s first Women’s Convention, President Gianni Infantino announced the organization’s new commitment to dedicate $500 million to women’s soccer programs over the next four years. The announcement came on the heels of FIFA’s new partnership with UN Women, focused on promoting gender equity around the world.
Held on June 6 and 7 in the days before the kickoff of the Women’s World Cup, the FIFA Women’s Football Convention was the organization’s latest foray into empowerment for female soccer players. As the first event of its kind, the Convention gathered leaders from sports and politics in an unprecedented arena to discuss key issues surrounding women’s empowerment and development in professional football.
Speakers included FIFA President Gianni Infantino and soccer player Mia Hamm, two-time world player of the year and two-time World Cup champion.
“This game has a place,” Hamm said. “This game is marketable. This game is beautiful. You just need to make the investment.”
And the investment is on its way. At the end of the convention, Infantino announced FIFA’s half billion commitment to women’s soccer, which will be invested in the Women’s World Cup, development programs for female players, and female-focused youth competitions.
“We are moving. We are progressing. We are trying,” Infantino said. “We are making a step at each time.”
In the last three years, FIFA has taken significant steps toward empowering female players. In 2016, FIFA established a dedicated Women’s Football Division, rolled out the first steps in its ten-year plan to reach 60 million female soccer players, and appointed its first female Secretary General, Fatma Samoura.
“This landmark forum can be considered the first waypoint on our long journey to fulfill the enormous potential of the women’s game around the world, affording us the opportunity to reflect on what we are getting right and how we can still improve,” said Samoura in her opening letter to attendees of the Convention.
“The hugely anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 will underscore that sporting greatness is not limited by gender. There is no better way to inspire and empower a new generation of young women to take up the game and elevate it to greater heights. Now, for two days in Paris, it is our responsibility and our privilege to determine the roles that each of us will play in driving positive change through football and to lay the groundwork for furthering diversity and equality, both on and off the pitch. The inaugural FIFA Women’s Football Convention is a crucial stepping stone in promoting the women’s game, making football a sport for all and advocating against gender discrimination.”
FIFA’s campaign for gender equity took another step forward at the Convention as well. Infantino, along with Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, announced FIFA’s upcoming partnership with UN Women.
“Sports gives us multidimensional possibilities to advance gender equality,” Mlambo-Ngucka said of the partnership. Details about FIFA’s work with UN Women are forthcoming, but the organizations have announced their common goal “to promote gender equity around the globe.”
The Women’s World Cup kicked off at the end of the Convention with the France v. Korea match held in Parc des Princes in Paris. The tournament runs until July 7, and promises to be another record year for FIFA and the Women’s World Cup.
To some, FIFA’s investment in women’s soccer may seem like too little, too late. But for others, the opportunity only continues to grow. As the growth of women’s soccer clubs calls for increased media attention, girls around the world will be able to see themselves in the female players and role models currently taking the field.
As Mia Hamm said, “We need more investment for women’s football. More money, more time, more stories, [so] that four years from now you’ll be hearing girls saying ‘I watched 2019 France and it changed my life.’”
To learn more about the ways feminist philanthropy is transforming the sporting world, read about Benny Bonsu’s appointment as GiveMeSport’s first Head of Women’s Sport, or discover the ways Visa is supporting women and girls’ empowerment with its investment in the U.S. Women’s National Team.