FIFA President Gianni Infantino on promoting women's football, equality within the game and whether a World Cup every two years could happen
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has urged the football community to capitalise on the enormous popularity of the 2019 Women's World Cup by investing in the sport on and off the pitch.
Speaking at an International Sports Press Association conference in Budapest, he said: "We just lived the best World cup in France last summer
"What people saw is that actually it’s [women's football] a real sport. There are real athletes playing with technical skills.
"It’s not boring. It’s not slow. It’s a real sport which brings to you the same emotions like men’s football.
"The stadiums in France were vibrating. And in terms of TV audience, countries that are not usually famous for their women's sport had higher audience for their women's national team than their men's national team in the same period."
"This shows us we need to invest and do more. It's an event in itself and we decided to invest US $1 billion from FIFA reserves in developing the women's game. If we wait for others to invest we can wait maybe a long time."
He also emphasised that there is a demand for more opportunities for women to play at the highest level football.
"We need to increase the number of teams in the youth competitions as well for women," he added.
"I would like to create for women’s football as well a Club World Cup in the same way we are doing for the men because i think we have to boost club football and national team football for women.
"We need to create a women’s world league to have national teams at different levels play more often."
However, he recognised there are obstacles which prevent the promotion of the women's game, ones which he has faced himself.
He said: "This was proposed by myself 2 years ago but [it] was then blocked because obviously there were different reasons by different people who want to protect their own house. But we will bring it up again.
Infantino also pointed to the importance of gender equality beyond the pitch.
"Women are 50% of the world's population. It is important that we start behaving in football like modern people. We speak about racism and discrimination but we speak also about gender equality.
"Gender equality on the pitch or outside the pitch in the rooms, in the meeting rooms, in the councils, in the management. In FIFA's administration we have over 40% women. But of course this is not enough."
The FIFA President also spoke on the proposed idea that the Women's World Cup take place biennial (every two years) rather than every four years.
He said: "The French president of football proposed that we play the World Cup every 2 years because it was so fantastic in France and it can boost the event. Let’s discuss. Let’s not have taboos and see what we can do."