How Athletes At The Women’s World Cup Will Have More Equal Footing With Male Players

"Definitely progress."

In 2019, soccer teams will be heading to France to play in the Women's World Cup. And this week, soccer's governing organization, FIFA, announced some adjustments to its budget.

FIFA will be funding business-class flights for some of the participating teams as they travel to France, the Associated Press reports. In 2018, the FIFA offered "business-class return flights for 50 people" to all the men's teams that played in this summer's tournament in Russia.

Additionally, the total prize money awarded to women's teams will "significantly increase" from the $15 million that was split among the 24 nations that played in the 2015 tournament," though that number has not yet been disclosed. 

The adjustment is important considering the current level of gender inequality that exists within the sport. This year, France's men's team won $38 million from FIFA after being crowned World Cup champions, but in 2015, the United States team only received $2 million for winning the Women's World Cup, the AP explains. 

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"We continue to be told we should be grateful just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer, to get paid for doing it," Hope Solo said in 2016, alleging gender pay discrimination within the U.S. Soccer Federation. "In this day and age, it's about equality. It's about equal rights. It's about equal pay. We're pushing for that. We believe now the time is right because we believe it's our responsibility for women's sports and specifically for women's soccer to do whatever it takes to push for equal pay and equal rights. And to be treated with respect," she added during an interview on the Today show.

Former FIFA Council member Moya Dodd told the AP that the organization's latest announcement is "definitely progress" and that the flight coverage — which will be available to those traveling more than four hours — is a "huge relief." 

"Leaders in sport should not be content to sit back and let the gender pay gap get wider in absolute terms on their watch," Dodd added. 

The Football Federation of Australia "welcomes to increased investment" for 2019 and knows "that FIFA has prioritized the development of the women's game under its new strategic plan and such a commitment would really bring this to life," The Canberra Times reports. 

The move is the latest step toward gender parity in soccer, coming months after New Zealand vowed to pay members of its women's and men's soccer teams the same amount of money.

And this trend extends beyond soccer. Earlier this month, the World Surf League announced that in 2019, female surfers will receive the same prize money as male surfers in all of the league's events. 

"I feel like the momentum in our society to have this conversation is incredible — because it's not just in surfing, or in sport, that women are fighting for equality in the workplace. It's everywhere," surfer Stephanie Gilmore said in an op-ed for The Players' Tribune. "And I really hope this decision can be the start of a much bigger movement not only in sport, and eventually, in society."

Cover image: Oleh Dubyna / Shutterstock.com

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