Sydney: FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said on Friday the Women's World Cup had generated more than $570 million in revenue and enabled soccer's global governing body to break even, despite raising the prize purse tenfold compared to the 2015 edition.
The Swiss, in a typically combative speech, said the ninth edition of the FIFA showpiece event had been the "best and greatest and biggest", and vindicated the decision to raise the prize money and expand the field from 24 to 32 teams.
"Some voices were raised, would it cost too much? We don't make enough revenues, we will have to subsidise. And our opinion was, well if we have to subsidise, we will subsidise, because we have to do that," he told the FIFA Women's Football Convention.
"But actually, this World Cup generated over 570 million US dollars in revenues, and so we broke even. We didn't lose any money and we generated the second highest income of any sport, besides of course the men's World Cup, at a global stage." That was one of the few comparisons to men's football in Infantino's speech. The $440 million prize purse for the men's World Cup in Qatar is still considerably more than the $152 million being shared by the women in Australia and New Zealand.
"I say to all the women, you have the power to change. Pick the right battles. Pick the right fights," Infantino said.
"Just keep pushing, keep the momentum, keep dreaming, and let's really go for a full equality. Not just equal pay in the World Cup, which is a slogan that comes up every now and then.
"Equal pay in the World Cup, we are going in that direction already. But that would not solve anything ... because it's one month every four years and it's a few players out of the thousands and thousands of players." Infantino also rounded on critics of the choice of Australia and New Zealand as hosts, and of the tournament's expansion.
"I remember when we decided to do that, of course the usual critics, which are less and less, were saying it's not going to work and the level is too different," he said.
"There would be 15-0 scores, it will be bad for women's football and its image. I'm sorry but FIFA was right. FIFA was right. As it happens quite often in the last years, FIFA was right once more." England play Spain in the World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday to close the tournament.