FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday hit back at critics of the decision to expand the Women’s World Cup to 32 teams, saying, “I’m sorry, but FIFA was right.”
England and Spain will play the final on Sunday in Sydney, the culmination of a month-long tournament featuring 32 teams for the first time, up from 24 in 2019.
There were fears the greater number of teams would mean some weaker sides and therefore some lopsided scorelines.
But the World Cup saw several of the higher-ranked teams dumped out early and Jamaica, Morocco and South Africa all reached the knockout stage for the first time.
Speaking at a FIFA convention in Sydney on women’s football, Infantino called this Women’s World Cup the “biggest and best ever”.
“They were saying: it’s not going to work, the level is too different, you will have 15-0 scores, it will be bad for women’s football and its image,” he said of FIFA’s move to expand the tournament to 32 teams.
“But I’m sorry, FIFA was right, FIFA was right.
“We had many countries around the world who thought they now have a chance to participate.
“Everyone now believes there is a chance to shine on the global stage.”
Infantino reiterated that football’s governing body had invested $1 billion in the women’s game and said “full equality has been reached” with men’s football.
“This World Cup generated over $570 million in revenue and so we broke even,” he said.
“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.”
He added: “This shows our strategy was not too bad, but of course we still have to do much better.
“But we are on the right path.”