By Michael Lewis
LYON, France — Megan Rapinoe doesn’t think women’s soccer gets enough respect from FIFA.
The United States captain Saturday took a kick at FIFA and any confederation that had anything to do with scheduling two other finals on the same day as the Women’s World Cup championship match here.
The Concacaf Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico will be held in Chicago, while the Copa America title match will be played between Brazil and Peru in Rio.
“Do you feel respected? No, of course not!” she said at a press conference. “It’s terrible scheduling for everyone. Don’t you guys feel disrespected by that? As someone who worked in football, who plays in football, that’s a terrible idea to put everything on the same day, in every way. There are two other finals going on, but this is the World Cup final. This is like, cancel everything day.
“So, no, I don’t know how it happened. I heard somewhere that they didn’t think about it. Just didn’t think about it. The World Cup final is set so far in advance, its actually unbelievable. I don’t think that we feel the same level of respect.”
A little later, Rapinoe took on FIFA again. On Friday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced that the women’s prize money for the 2013 World Cup would be raised to $60 million. The men’s prize money for 2022 in Qatar is $440 million, so the gap has increased between the sexes has increased.
“It certainly is not fair,” she said. “They should double it now and then use that number to double it or quadruple it for the next time. That’s what I mean that we feel respected. Earlier in the year, maybe it was last year, a quote came out that i said, ‘FIFA doesn’t care about the women’s game.’ That’s what I mean. So, if you really care about each game in the same way, are you letting the gap grow?
“I’m not say that the prize money is $440 million this time or next time around. I understand that for a lot of different reasons, the men’s game is far financially advanced than the women’s game. But if you really care about letting the gap grow, are you scheduling three finals on the same day? No, you’re not. Are you letting federations have their teams play two games in the four years between each tournament? No, you’re not. That’s what I mean about the level of caring.
“You need attention and detail and the best minds we can possibly have in the women’s game, helping it to grow every single day. I understand, is a very complex problem, or a complex thing to be a part of. The resources are there. I think the willingness and the brain power is all there.
“I mean, we’re making a World Cup in Qatar happen. They kind of care about the men’s World Cup, considering all the issues that are happening there.”
The USA will meet the Netherlands as it will play in its record third consecutive final while trying to become the second women’s team to win back-to-back tournaments.
Rapinoe, who missed the semifinal victory over England with a strained hamstring, was optimistic she would suit up for Sunday’s confrontation. She has scored five goals for the Americans, including four in the knockout round.
“As of now I am expected to be ready tomorrow,” she said. “I feel good. That’s all I can really say right now. I have one more training session. As you guys now, I am pretty open and honest with you. So, nothing hidden or anything. I expect to be good to go for tomorrow. I am excited about that opportunity.”