FIFA head pledges $500M for women's soccer, announces partnership with UN Women
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FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Friday pledged $500 million over the next four years for the advancement of women’s soccer while announcing a partnership with UN Women to promote gender equality.

“We are moving. We are progressing. We are trying. We are making a step at each time,” Infantino said during FIFA’s first Women’s Convention, according to the Los Angeles Times.

FIFA will dedicate $500 million over the next four years to women’s soccer, including development programs, the World Cup and youth competitions.

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The international soccer organization also announced a partnership with UN Women, The Associated Press reported.

Infantino and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, signed a memorandum on the deal at the event and said more details will be announced at a later date.

The memo said both FIFA and UN Women recognize "the importance of close collaboration between public authorities, international organizations, the private sector, and media and sports organizations, both in respect of making sport activities more accessible to women and girls and in dissemination the diverse sport content that promotes gender equality."

FIFA was criticized earlier the year for paying prizes differently for the men’s and women’s teams in the World Cup.

The previous prize pool for the men's tournament is $400 million for 32 teams, while the prize pool for the Women's World Cup sits at just $30 million for 24 teams, according a New York Times report from March.

FIFA also announced at the convention that it was raising the total prize money for the Women’s World Cup, which kicked off in France this week, from $15 million in 2015 to $50 million, the AP noted.

While a noted increase, the total prize money is a fraction of the $400 million in prize money awarded for the 2018 men's World Cup. The prize money for the 2022 men's World Cup in Qatar will be $440 million, AP noted.

Athletic retailer Adidas announced earlier this year that it would ensure Adidas-sponsored players in the Women’s World Cup receive the same performance bonus payment as men. 

Gender inequality in the soccer community has also plagued teams in the United States.

All 28 players on the U.S. women's soccer team filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation on International Women’s Day, alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” including inequity in pay, practice time, practice locations, medical treatment, coaching and travel.

Mia Hamm, a two-time world player of the year and two-time World Cup champion with the U.S., spoke at the conference in favor of the investments.

“This game has a place. This game is marketable. This game is beautiful. You just need to make the investment,” 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.’”