Football will eventually return following the coronavirus pandemic, but it could look a little different.

The sport's leading competitions have been suspended amid the global crisis, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino this week suggested the pause represented an opportunity to "reform football".

"Perhaps we can reform football by taking a step backwards," Infantino told Gazzetta dello Sport. "[There would be] fewer but more interesting competitions, maybe fewer teams but for a better balance, fewer but more competitive matches to preserve players' health."

But what could post-coronavirus football look like? What must remain? What should disappear?

Five Stats Perform writers have put forward their suggestions for how the sport can move forward.


NO MORE GROUP STAGES - Ben Spratt

Those seemingly most frustrated by football's packed schedule are the coaches of leading European clubs. Therefore, there is a simple way to lose four games a season.

The most exciting Champions League and Europa League matches - with greater scope for shocks - tend to occur in the knockout stages anyway, so why not play two tense legs instead of six pool fixtures to advance?

A return to the format used in the European Cup and UEFA Cup might mean renaming the continental 'Leagues', but it is a price worth paying. Just keep the Champions League anthem!


DITCH FA CUP REPLAYS - Chris Myson

Even before the coronavirus pandemic caused a host of postponements and cancellations, fixture schedules were a particularly significant issue in England.

The FA Cup initially got rid of replays from the quarter-finals onwards and has since extended that to the fifth round. But now they should go all the way.

This would impact the one or two lower-league clubs each year who earn a dream replay against a top team in round three or four, but the competition has lost some of its lustre with big teams often resting their star names in the early rounds anyway.

Often the additional fixture is an inconvenience, while a one-off tie increases the drama and actually boosts the chance of a lower-tier club achieving an upset.


GET RID OF THE EFL CUP - Peter Hanson

Another sure-fire way to ease pressure on the calendar in England is to ditch the EFL Cup.

French football is ending the Coupe de la Ligue after this season, meaning English football will be the only one of the top-five European nations to have a second domestic cup competition.

With early rounds dominated by second-string XIs and fringe players, and the 'bigger' clubs largely utilising the cup as a means to give minutes to expensive benches, there is little clamour for the continuation of the EFL Cup.


AXE THE NATIONS LEAGUE - Liam Blackburn

If we're looking to cut back, how about axing the newest competition, the one that has no history and remains a mystery to your Average Joe?

The thought process behind UEFA's Nations League – to have more relevant fixtures and allow countries to play those they are more closely aligned with in the rankings – is commendable, yet it was undermined by the eventual absence of relegation from the inaugural edition.

The format and its relationship with qualifying for the Euros continues to be something of a Rubik's Cube unless you're a rocket scientist.

If something needs to go, can the convoluted.


CUT THE CLUB WORLD CUP - Patric Ridge

Infantino's calls to trim a bloated calendar are sensible, but actions speak louder than words. Perhaps proof of his desire for "reform" would come with an early end to an expanded Club World Cup.

Although the new 24-team format would see the finals held every four years in lieu of the Confederation Cup, it still seems an unnecessary hindrance.

The competition has been won by the Champions League holders on all but four occasions since its 2000 inception and provides little in the way of entertainment. 

Given the first new-look Club World Cup was due to take place in 2021 and now the Euros, Copa America and Olympics have each been pushed back to next year, Infantino has the opportunity to disregard this particular folly once and for all.

Even from a distance, it seems impossible not to gawk at the mangled train wreck that has unfolded at the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and not be overcome with a sense of bewilderment.

In a press conference earlier this month, then newly elected president William Wallace became the latest in a long line of TTFA bosses to firmly plant allegations of widespread corruption at the feet of the previous tenants.  The new head honcho pointed to unpaid statutory deductions, bounced checks, a faulty finance structure as partial contributors to the body accruing a towering $US7,370,990 (TT$50,000,000).  Wallace also pointed to an incomplete Home of Football in Couva, which he claimed was shown to have structural flaws and lacking proper insurance. 

In the midst of the doom and gloom, Wallace then went on to paint a much rosier outlook for the future of the TTFA, after claiming the newly appointed administration had already taken major steps to alleviate some of the issues.  A settlement had been reached with television commentator Selwyn Melville regarding the issue of who owns the ‘Soca Warriors’ (Now famous nickname of the Trinidad and Tobago Men's Senior team)  and the announcement of an unspecified memorandum of understanding that would clear the debt in ‘two to three years’. The president pointed out that the new body had secured a TT$25-million apparel deal, secured a broadcast and digital rights partner, sealed a domestic sponsor and secured a sponsor for the FA. 

Good so far, but crucially, Wallace claimed that the work of a pair of accountants posted within his administration’s new internal finance structure satisfied a recent delegation of FIFA and Concacaf officials and that a better relationship could be expected going forward.  The bodies have long been at odds regarding the financial state of the local football body and had delayed its annual subvention.  A little over two weeks later FIFA disbanded the Board of the TTFA and appointed a normalization committee to take over affairs.  What on earth is going on? Nobody has explained to date.

The timing of FIFA's intervention seems strange, deciding to disband a newly formed executive that seems to not only have implemented structural reform but also pledges for financial support. A perceived sense of chumminess with the former administration, whether real or imagined put this in an even worse light and could be a real black eye for a Gianni Infantino-led organisation, which claims to have taken on the mantle of crusaders against corruption.

The response of the former TTFA members is, however, also interesting.

Any claims about a violation of sovereign and democratically elected officials certainly does not fly as when it comes to football the twin-island republic falls directly under the governance of FIFA itself and not the state. In several instances, countries have been suspended from the organisation for violating just that principle. The charter and ordinances that govern all 211 national associations of which T&T are a part, and the particular article that was quoted, gives them the specific right to intervene in the affairs of a member nation.  Normalisation committees are not after all aberrations on the global football landscape with Ghana, Egypt, Pakistan and Namibia among a few of those that have received such ‘assistance’ in recent years. This isn't even the first time this has happened in the Caribbean, with FIFA taking over the Guyana Football Federation and putting in a normalisation committee for a little over a year.

In other words, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Randy Harris was right, even if not popular, in pointing out that the appointment of normalisation committees is the prerogative of FIFA and can happen to any of the 211 national associations.  With all members agreeing to and playing under those statues it is difficult to see how it can be argued otherwise.

Secondly, it’s hard to imagine supporting the argument that a measure put in place to mitigate against damage the TTFA has admitted exists, is unfair, and to do so with the question, 'why now?'. FIFA should perhaps have intervened long ago, but few could argue with firefighters attempting to save any part of a house that has been engulfed in flames for a prolonged period. We would not advocate them letting it burn to the ground. 

Though they may not be required to, FIFA should, in the interest of the transparency they have long sought, give more details on the specifics of these particular circumstances.

 

 

President Gianni Infantino has suggested FIFA could "reform football by taking a step backwards" after the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport has been halted in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, which has over 345,000 confirmed cases and almost 15,000 deaths worldwide.

Europe's top five leagues have been suspended, while Euro 2020 and the 2020 Copa America have been pushed back 12 months.

Infantino sees the pause in play as an opportunity to assess the future of the game, though.

Leading managers - most notably Jurgen Klopp - have long bemoaned a packed scheduled, and the FIFA chief has highlighted the possibility of cutting back on some competitions.

"Perhaps we can reform football by taking a step backwards," Infantino told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"[There would be] fewer but more interesting competitions, maybe fewer teams but for a better balance, fewer but more competitive matches to preserve players' health."

Meanwhile, Infantino confirmed FIFA's revamped 24-team Club World Cup - initially set for 2021 - would have to be rescheduled due to the changing international calendar.

"We will have to move the Club World Cup," he acknowledged. "We will see if the new format will have its first edition in 2021, 2022 or 2023."

Football's immediate focus is on completing ongoing club campaigns.

Infantino insists all leagues will follow the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidance, and FIFA is looking at altering contracts set to expire in June to allow for the potential prolongment of the season.

"We will start again when there is no longer any risk to health," he said. "Nothing says that will be in April or May.

"Federations and leagues are ready to follow WHO recommendations.

"We are thinking of modifying the statutes of contracts and making temporary derogations to extend their duration, initially scheduled until June 30."

FIFA is backing the decisions to move Euro 2020 and the Copa America to next year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

UEFA and CONMEBOL announced on Tuesday that the tournaments will be postponed until 2021 to make it possible for the 2019-20 club seasons to be completed once local suspensions on league football have been lifted.

FIFA will convene a conference call with Council members on Wednesday where president Gianni Infantino will call for the revised Euro and Copa America dates to be accepted.

Members will also discuss plans to reschedule the revised 2021 Club World Cup, which is due to be held from June 17 until July 4 next year.

Infantino is also proposing FIFA contribute funds towards the global fight against COVID-19.

In a statement, he said he will encourage FIFA to ratify a direct $10million contribution to the World Health Organisation Solidarity Response Fund and establish a 'Global Football Assistance Fund' to "help members of the football community affected by this crisis".

FIFA will also consult with football stakeholders over any necessary changes to rules regarding transfers, so as to "protect contracts for both players and clubs".

He added: "It goes without saying that FIFA will keep in regular contact with all members of the football community during this difficult period. As I stated yesterday, challenging circumstances offer the opportunity for people to come together, show what they can do in a collective spirit, and emerge stronger and better prepared for the future.  And this is what FIFA is aiming to do here.

"The world is facing an unprecedented health challenge and clearly a global and collective response is needed. Cooperation, mutual respect and understanding must be the guiding principles for all decision makers to have in mind at this crucial moment in time."

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

FIFA is considering staging the Women's World Cup every two years, according to the governing body's president Gianni Infantino.

The tournament is played every four years in its current guise and was most recently won by the United States in July.

Following the success of this year's edition in France, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet suggested playing the competition biennially, rather than every four years.

And Infantino is not ruling out the prospect of staging the tournament more regularly in the future.

"[Le Graet] said we should organise the Women's World Cup every two years instead of every four years because it has such a big and positive impact on the women's game," Infantino told Sky Sports News.

"This is something we need to consider and we are considering it. There are a lot of exciting points with regards to women's football in the next few years."

Brazil, Colombia and Japan are all in contention to host the 2023 Women's World Cup, while Australia and New Zealand have submitted a joint-bid.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino did not mince words in reference to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, insisting he had very little regard for the embattled official.

Infantino was recently in Trinidad and Tobago for the opening ceremony of a new hotel at the home of football in Couva.

“A very instrumental, negative figure for football, unfortunately,” was the FIFA President’s blunt assessment of Warner’s legacy when asked by the local media.

“I don’t need to say anything about that.  The courts have spoken about that and will continue to speak about that," he added.

Warner, who was also a former CONCACAF president and special advisor to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), was banned from the sport for life in 2015, in light of his alleged involvement in money laundering and wire fraud.  Warner is currently battling extradition to the United States.  In 2015, the former government minister was one of several other FIFA officials arrested in Zurich before the annual FIFA Congress. 

Earlier this year a United States court ruled that Warner should repay US$79 million that he had fraudulently obtained from CONCACAF.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for "new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football" after England players were subjected to abuse in Bulgaria.

UEFA has charged the Bulgarian Football Union over racist behaviour by fans during England's 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win.

The game was halted twice before half-time and a group of supporters who made "monkey chants" and Nazi salutes were ejected from the ground.

Tuesday's fallout from those shameful scenes included BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigning after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov threatened to cut funding if he did not step down.

FIFA pledged to extend any sanctions imposed by UEFA worldwide and Infantino, who previously fronted European football's governing body, suggested now is the time for football to take a harder line against racism, including life bans for any perpetrators.

"So many times we say there is no place for racism in football, but nonetheless we still face challenges to tackle this problem in our sport, as we do in society," he said.

"We will need the support of public authorities to help us identify and punish the culprits but we probably also need to think more broadly on what we can do to fix this. 

"When we proposed the three-step procedure in 2009 when I was at UEFA, and then made the regulations even tougher a few years later, we could not have imagined that so shortly thereafter we would again be having to think of how to combat this obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world."

Infantino added: "I call on all football governing bodies to join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football. 

"As a starting point, I suggest that all competition organisers enact regulations which envisage life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match. FIFA can then enforce such bans at a worldwide level."

UEFA's three-step procedure to deal with racist incidents was partially enacted during Monday's match, with the initial stoppage coming after England players reported chants to the referee and an announcement calling for the abuse to cease was made over the stadium's public address system.

After a further complaint, match official Ivan Bebek asked England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane whether he wished for them to take the teams from the field – in line with step two.

The close proximity to half-time was a factor in England being minded to play on and Southgate credited Bebek's conduct throughout as being "outstanding".

England debutant Tyrone Mings confirmed the players unanimously agreed to continue playing at half-time. The third step in the UEFA plan after taking the players from the field is an abandonment if abuse persists.

Infantino's UEFA successor Aleksander Ceferin made a strong defence of his organisation's record when it comes to dealing with racism.

"As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about UEFA’s approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark," he said.

"UEFA, in close cooperation with the FARE network (Football Against Racism Europe), instituted the three-stage protocol for identifying and tackling racist behaviour during games.

"UEFA's sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches."

The historic World Cup qualifier between North Korea and South Korea in Pyongyang ended in a 0-0 draw at an empty Kim Il-sung Stadium.

South Korea last crossed the border for a friendly in 1990 but had never contested a competitive match in the North prior to Tuesday's encounter.

The nations are technically still at war, with frosty relations persisting between their governments.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino attended the landmark match, but images relayed from the venue depicted empty stands.

A summary issued by the Korean Football Association stated "both teams fought fiercely" as four yellow cards were handed out, two for each side.

Tottenham star Son Heung-min completed a full match for Paulo Bento's South Korea side.

The draw leaves the teams level on seven points at the top of Group H after three games in the second phase of Asian qualifying for Qatar 2022.

South Korea are scheduled to host the return fixture in June 2020.

Thousands of women watched Iran thrash Cambodia 14-0 in a men's 2022 World Cup qualifier on Thursday in a historic move welcomed by FIFA.

Authorities in Iran have enforced a long-standing ban on women entering football grounds, though it was temporarily lifted for the second leg of the AFC Champions League final between Persepolis and Japanese side Kashima Antlers in November 2018.

Iranian woman Sahar Khodayari died last month after setting herself on fire while awaiting a court case following her March arrest for attempting to sneak into Azadi Stadium in Tehran wearing a disguise.

Amnesty International official Philip Luther described the ban as showing "appalling contempt for women's rights" and told FIFA to take action, and female fans were permitted to watch the defeat of Cambodia.

"For the first time in nearly 40 years, several thousand women have been allowed into a stadium in Iran to watch a football match played by men," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

"This is a very positive step forward, and one which FIFA, and especially Iranian girls and women, have been eagerly waiting for.

"The passion, joy and enthusiasm they showed today was remarkable to see and encourages us even more to continue the path we have started. History teaches us that progress comes in stages and this is just the beginning of a journey.

"Consequently, FIFA now looks more than ever towards a future when ALL girls and women wishing to attend football matches in Iran will be free to do so, and in a safe environment.

"There can be no stopping or turning back now.

"I would like to thank both the Iran FA, the AFC and the authorities involved for their efforts and cooperation. FIFA will continue to work closely with them, to help ensure that the right thing is done, which is to allow all fans, irrespective of gender, to have the chance to go to the stadiums and enjoy a game of football. Since I arrived at FIFA, we fight to see this objective fulfilled.

"But, above all, today I want to say a very big thank you and record our utmost respect to all of the Iranian girls and women who courageously stood and are standing up for their rights.

"FIFA fully supports them and will stand by them."

Karim Ansarifard scored four and Serdar Azmoun also hit a hat-trick in a one-sided victory for Marc Wilmots' side, who are top of Group C with six points from two games.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has urged football to banish racism once and for all.

Infantino addressed his federation's annual awards ceremony in Milan on Monday, before presenting Lionel Messi with The Best FIFA Men's Player prize.

But first he addressed the disgraceful scenes during Atalanta's game against Fiorentina in Serie A on Sunday.

The 2-2 draw at the Ennio Tardini was stopped for three minutes after Fiorentina defender Dalbert, on loan from Inter, reported racist abuse from the crowd to the referee.

"I want to say this here in Italy, in my country. Yesterday, again, we have witnessed in the Italian championship an example of racism," Infantino said.

"This is not acceptable any more. We have to say this. We have to say no to racism, in whatever form.

"No to racism in football, no to racism in society. But we don't have just to say it. We have to fight against it.

"We have to kick racism out once and for all in Italy and in the rest of the world. Out of football and out of society."

Striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants during Inter's 2-1 win at Cagliari earlier this month, while Hellas Verona denied Franck Kessie was racially abused by their fans during a 1-0 defeat to AC Milan.

Kessie slammed Verona's claims that the referee was the target of whistles as "unacceptable and disgraceful".

In September 2016, seven months after Infantino took office, FIFA disbanded its anti-racism task force, declaring it had "completely fulfilled its temporary mission".

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called on Iranian authorities to repeal a long-standing ban on women entering football grounds.

Iranian woman Sahar Khodayari died this month after setting herself on fire while awaiting a court case, following her March arrest for attempting to sneak in disguise into the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

She was known as Iran's 'blue girl', reportedly because of the colours of her favourite club, Esteghlal Tehran.

Amnesty International official Philip Luther described the ban as showing "appalling contempt for women's rights" and encouraged world governing body FIFA to take "urgent action".

The ban has been in place since 1979 but was lifted for the second leg of the AFC Champions League final between Persepolis and Japanese side Kashima Antlers in November 2018.

Infantino said: "I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.

"I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.

"Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.

"We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October."

Iran, ranked joint 23rd in the world, host Cambodia in World Cup qualifying on October 10.

President Donald Trump has held talks with FIFA chief Gianni Infantino about how women's football can become "more equitable".

Trump, who openly rowed with star player Megan Rapinoe during the United States' Women's World Cup triumph, met Infantino at the White House.

The US women's national team are embroiled in a long-running battle with US Soccer in a battle to secure pay parity with their male counterparts, a far less successful team on the world stage.

Trump has yet to make his position clear in that argument, but after talks with FIFA president Infantino he said: "Gianni and I just had a meeting on women’s soccer and what everybody’s going to do to make that even better and more equitable, etc etc."

Infantino added: "[In] women's soccer, where you are world champion, there is much more to do. The president was saying this to me and he is right.

"We are working with that and we will announce very soon some new initiatives."

Rapinoe said during the World Cup that she would not visit the White House if President Trump invited the team, triggering an angry response from the Oval Office. Trump suggested she had shown "disrespect" to her country.

The 34-year-old Rapinoe, who is gay and has used her platform to speak out on civil rights matters, refused to sing the US national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, during the World Cup in France. She previously supported NFL star Colin Kaepernick when - in an action that was rebuked by President Trump - he took a knee before games during the anthem in protest at racial injustice in the US.

Rapinoe has also urged Infantino to make his voice heard in the equal-pay dispute.

Trump and Infantino were meeting primarily on Monday to discuss the United States' co-hosting of the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

"We are, as you probably know, getting the World Cup in 2026 for the United States," Trump said. "Some of it is a partnership with Mexico and Canada. It's coming into the United States for a large percentage of the games.

"We're very excited about it."

Megan Rapinoe wants action on the issue of equal pay after helping the United States to a fourth Women's World Cup final triumph.

USA beat Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon on Sunday to retain their title, Rapinoe scoring a second-half penalty before Rose Lavelle found the net too.

At the next World Cup in 2023, FIFA president Gianni Infantino wishes to double the prize money to $60million, yet at the men's competition in 2022, teams in Qatar will have a pot of $440m.

Rapinoe, who spoke at length on the issue prior to Sunday's final, revisited the matter again having collected her Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards for the tournament's top scorer and best player.

She also called for action from the US Soccer Federation (USFF), with the players in Jill Ellis' team having taken legal action against the governing body earlier this year over pay disparity.and working conditions.

"Everyone's asking what's next and what we want to come all of this – it's to stop having the conversation about equal pay and are we worth it," Rapinoe said.

"What are we going to do about it? Gianni, what are we going to do about it? Carlos [Cordeiro, USFF president], what are we going to do about it? Everyone. It's time to sit down with everyone and really get to work.

"This game has done so much for all of us, we've put so much into it. I think it's a testament to the quality on the field.

"I don't think everything else is matching that. How we do get everything to match up and push this forward because I think at this point the argument that we have been having is totally null and void."

She added in the post-match press conference: "It's time to move that conversation forward to the next step. A little public shame never hurt anybody, right?"

Rapinoe, who scored six times in France, was presented with both of her individual prizes by Infantino on the pitch after the game.

Asked what they spoke about, she replied: "Just pleasantries. There was a wry smile in there, for sure. He knows that I know.

"I think he did say, 'Let's have a conversation'. I said, 'I'd love to'."

Infantino would also have heard fans in the stadium chanting 'equal pay' while he was on the pitch.

Rapinoe and her USA team-mates will share a pot of $4m for winning the tournament, with France's men's squad earning $38m for triumphing in Russia last year.

"Love it," Rapinoe said of the chants.

"To have a full stadium in a foreign country, the movement is just swelling before our very eyes.

"Obviously you have the president of France there [Emmanuel Macron], the president of FIFA, you have our [USFF] president, delegates from all over the world.

"This is what the people want, give the people what they want, always."

Megan Rapinoe warmed up for Sunday's Women's World Cup final by blasting FIFA over this weekend's scheduling and the growing gender gap in prize money.

The 34-year-old will bid to claim her second World Cup winners' medal when USA face Netherlands in Lyon, on the same day the Copa America and Gold Cup finals also take place.

That has irked Rapinoe, who also took aim at FIFA over the gulf in prize money available for the women's and men's World Cups.

While FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday announced plans to double prize money for the 2023 Women's World Cup from $30million to $60million, the pot for the men's tournament is increasing from $400million in 2018 to $440m at Qatar 2022, meaning the disparity will actually grow by a further $10m.

"It certainly is not fair," said Rapinoe.

"We should double [the women's prize money] now and then use that number to double it or quadruple it for the next time. That's what I mean when I talk about, 'Do we feel respected'.

"A quote came out that I said, 'FIFA doesn't care about the women's game'. That's what I mean. If you really care about each game in the same way, are you letting the gap grow?

"I'm not saying the prize money is $450million [for the women] this time or next time around. [I] understand that, for a lot of different reasons, the men's game financially is far advanced than the women's game.

"[But] If we really care about letting the gap grow, are you scheduling three finals on the same day? No, you're not. Are you letting federations have their teams play two games in the four years between each tournament? No, you're not. That's what I mean about the level of care.

"We need attention and detail and the best minds that we can possibly have in the women's game helping it grow every single day. It's a very complex problem, complex thing to be a part of.

"But the resources are there, and I think the willingness and the brain power is all there – people wanting to work in the women's game and make it as good as it can. It's all there, it's just a matter of wanting to do it and caring enough about it to make it happen.

"We're making a World Cup in Qatar happen, that shows you the amount of care they have about the men's World Cup, considering all of the issues that are happening there."

Rapinoe, like many of her American team-mates, has used her platform to speak out about inequality in numerous areas of society, and once again reiterated she has no plans to attend the White House should Jill Ellis' team retain their trophy.

She is also annoyed that the Women's World Cup final will be one of three showpiece events happening on Sunday.

The World Cup date had been in the calendar since September 2017, long before CONCACAF revealed the date for the Gold Cup final and CONMEBOL announced plans for the Copa America showpiece.

"It's terrible scheduling for everyone," said Rapinoe, who expects to be fit to face Netherlands despite missing the semi-final win over England with a hamstring strain.

"That's a terrible idea to put everything on the same day. In every way. There's two other finals going on but this is the World Cup final, this is like cancel-everything day.

"The World Cup final is set so far in advance. It's actually unbelievable. So, no, I don't think that we feel the same level of respect, certainly that FIFA has for the men and just in general."

A FIFA spokesperson said the global governing body and the different confederations had discussed the schedule "in general to minimise any potential timing clashes".

FIFA's statement said: "The scheduling of the different events has gone through a comprehensive consultancy process that has involved all key stakeholders and taken into account different aspects of both the women’s and men’s international match calendars."

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