FIFA stands by its decision for gender equality for World Cup

Two top FIFA officials have stood by the decision to "unbundle" the 2023 Women's World Cup from the men's tournament for the first time, saying commercial separation is a necessary step on the path to gender equality in football, even if it has to drag so

FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura - and head of women's football New Zealander Sarai Bareman - are in Sydney this week to check on preparations for the tournament that is now just 72 days away.

Their visit coincides with last-minute negotiations between FIFA and the broadcasters of five big European countries - England, Germany, Italy, France and Spain - which president Gianni Infantino has repeatedly criticised for offering "10 to 100 times less" to broadcast the Women's World Cup, compared with the men's.

Last week, Infantino even went as far as to publicly threaten a total blackout of July's tournament in these nations if their offers didn't improve, with FIFA's own free online platform FIFA+ believed to be a possible alternative if talks break down.

FIFA has been trying to commercialise the Women's World Cup as a stand-alone product, but Bareman admits it has been more challenging than they expected to get some major partners on board.

"From the commercial side, it is a change. It's a departure from business as usual, and the way things have been done for years," she told the ABC.

"FIFA has recognised the importance of women's football.

"Since the reforms have begun and the new team has come in from 2016, we've got a new women's football division, we've got a dedicated commercial strategy, we're ring-fencing specific investments, we're increasing the number of women in decision-making positions.

"There really needs to be a broad-brush approach to raise the game. And part of that is looking at it from a different lens commercially.

"Sometimes, it is a bit of a journey to bring people along onto the same page as us, but it has to be done.

"It's no secret: Women's football has been historically, and institutionally, discriminated against. Now is the time, from every angle, to change that and, if we have to drag people along kicking and screaming, then so be it."

While FIFA has not specified what an appropriate bid for the Women's World Cup looks like, its regular citation of viewership figures - where the 2023 edition is expected to attract roughly half the number of eyeballs as the men's - suggests broadcasters should be offering proportionally the same amount.

Samoura said FIFA was "quite confident that common ground will be found", while also reiterating Infantino's point that increasing investment into the women's game, overall, requires major partners to do their bit too.

"We cannot walk alone," Samoura told the ABC.

"FIFA is not a subsidised agency. All our money comes from either sponsors or broadcasters and broadcasters, alone, play a very important part in the investment we're doing into football.

"And if you really want to reach our ambitious aim of having 60 million women registered as players … we need Europe.