Tuesday 07 May 2024, 07:00

Gianni Infantino: The women’s game has set an example for football in the United States

  • The FIFA President was speaking at the 27th Annual Milken Institute Global Conference

  • Gianni Infantino praised the "unique" system for developing women's players in the USA

  • More investment is needed at both the top and grassroots level, he said

Gianni Infantino, speaking at the 27th Annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, said that women's football has led the way in growing the sport in the United States and making it successful.

The FIFA President added that the FIFA World Cup 26™, to be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States, is an unprecedented opportunity to grow the game still further in North America.

"Soccer in the US has become extremely successful, thanks also, in particular, to women," Mr Infantino said, recalling his visit to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to meet the American collegiate women’s football champions last year. "The United States has invested a lot in the women’s game and women’s soccer through the school system – the college system, which is very unique in this country," he said. "I visited UCLA and they had incredible infrastructure, like European (men's) youth teams."

However, the FIFA President said more investment is needed to attract the best players in the world to play in the United States - something that the hosting of the new 32-team FIFA Club World Cup 2025™ and the FIFA World Cup 26 could encourage. “I came two weeks ago here in Los Angeles, spoke to the Board of Governors of Major League Soccer and I told them to be a bit bolder, invest a bit more in the game and bring the best players. I mean, you want to see the best playing,” he said.

He also spoke of the investments needed at grassroots level. "What is done with the girls is not done with the boys today at the schools. The schools, the high schools, the colleges, they spend a lot of money on American sports, and not enough on soccer. So, they should spend a little bit more there," he said.

It was important to provide a clear pathway for local talent to develop and grow, and allow players the possibility of becoming a global star. “We want to show to the kids here who play soccer, when they are at school or when they are very young, that there is a path in soccer to glory, to become one of these world stars,” he said. “And this is what maybe they don't see yet. They see it in basketball. They see it in (American) football, in baseball, in ice hockey. But in soccer, it's still far away."