23 Sep Uefa doubles prize money for Women’s Euro 2022
- Increase is part of Uefa’s women’s ‘TimeForAction’ campaign
- European soccer’s governing body has also encouraged Fifa to stop “promotion campaign” for biennial World Cups
Uefa has agreed to double the prize money for participating teams ahead of the 2022 European Women’s Football Championship in England.
The 16 qualifying nations will share €16 million (US$18.7 million) between them, double the €8 million (US$9.4 million) distributed for the 2017 tournament held in the Netherlands.
European soccer’s governing body will also offer a total of €4.5 million (US$5.3 million) to European clubs who release their players to compete at the Women’s Euros next summer.
These developments are part of Uefa’s TimeForAction initiative, which aims to generate more revenue across women’s soccer.
Elsewhere, Uefa has called on Fifa to stop what it sees as a ‘promotional campaign’ in support of moving the men’s World Cup to a biennial calendar and urged the global governing body to consult widely instead.
Uefa’s executive committee met on 22nd September and later released a statement highlighting serious concerns it has with the plans drawn up by Fifa.
The statement said that, despite a request from Uefa’s member associations on 14th September for a special meeting with Fifa to discuss the plans, they had yet to receive a reply.
Uefa highlighted four key ‘dangers’ in the Fifa proposals: the dilution in the mystique around major tournaments; the erosion of opportunities for weaker teams; the impact on player welfare; and potential damage caused to the development of the women’s game with top national team competitions forced to go head to head in the same summer.
Uefa added in its statement: ‘These are just some of the serious concerns that the Fifa proposal provokes at first glance and they cannot be dispelled simply with unsubstantiated promotional slogans on the supposed benefits of a thicker calendar for final tournaments.
‘In this phase, the respect for a consultation process with the stakeholders – which should be unbiased – would suggest abstaining from promotional campaigns of unilaterally pre-determined concepts that nobody has been given the possibility to see in detail and which have wide-ranging, often unexpected, effects.’
Former players such as Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winner Ronaldo, as well as Peter Schmeichel and Tim Cahill, have appeared at events organised by Fifa extolling the virtues of biennial World Cups in recent weeks.
Fifa said on 20th September it was opening a new phase in its consultation process by hosting a virtual summit open to all its 211 national associations on 30th September.
That is in addition to separate invitations sent by Fifa on 3rd and 4th September to stakeholders including all the confederations, the European Club Association (ECA), the World Leagues Forum (WLF) and world players’ union FifPro.
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has expressed his concerns previously and told The Times earlier this month that European countries could boycott the World Cup if the changes were approved.
His Fifa counterpart Gianni Infantino wants to put the proposals to a vote of the member associations before the end of the year.
European Leagues – a group which represents all of the continent’s major domestic competitions including the Premier League – has expressed its firm and unanimous opposition to the plans and it is understood ECA members, like Uefa, have been unimpressed by Fifa’s handling of the consultation process.
The idea to look at biennial World Cups was first floated by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and was approved at Fifa Congress in May.
The plans do not just centre on shortening the gap between World Cups but also look at the balance between club and national team football.
They include a proposal for one, or at most two, international breaks during a club season to cut down on the ‘stop go’ nature of football at the top level.
Additional reporting by Jamie Gardner, PA chief sports reporter.
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