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What it was like when the footballing world turned on Gianni Infantino

The fans had something to say after the USA won a record 4th World Cup

Gianni Infantino may not be the most popular person in football these days.

Whether it’s trying to expand the men’s World Cup to 48 teams or allowing two other international finals to be held on the same day as the Women’s World Cup final.

There was a distinct moment after the final whistle in Lyon yesterday when the partisan crowd let Infantino know exactly what they think of him.

Infantino’s introduction was not well received

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Infantino’s introduction was not well received

In the end the USA had comfortably beaten The Netherlands, backing up all their so-called ‘arrogance’ with a fourth World Cup.

A VAR-assisted penalty from Megan Rapinoe and a goal from Rose Lavelle was enough to down the Dutch, but it could have been so much more.

Then what felt like the football world, from inside the stadium at least, turned on the leader of the sport.

As he emerged at the Parc Olympique Lyonnaise, Infantino may have been expecting a round of polite applause.

Instead he was met with a wall of boos from the vociferous American crowd.

The US crowd were in fine voice all tournament

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The US crowd were in fine voice all tournament

It was not the soundtrack he would have been expecting as he came to present the trophy to the newly-crowned world champions.

But the crowd wasn’t finished there.

As the booing subsided, a reactive chant sprung up and spread round the stadium like wildfire.

The Americans who I was surrounded by, and who had provided some of the best atmospheres in the tournament, began chanting ‘Equal Pay’ in unison directed Infantino’s way.

With the USWNT’s complete dominance of international football it is right that they receive equal pay to the men – if not more.

Out of the eight Women’s World Cups to have been held, the USA have won four and have made it as far as the semi-finals in the other four.

Meanwhile the USMNT didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

These two have done so much for the women’s game

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These two have done so much for the women’s game

Although it might not actually be Infantino’s decision, but rather one of the powers that be in the US, the crowd were reflecting the powerful voices within the team.

Their two best players, Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, have both been outspoken to the point of legal cases in making sure the women are equally paid.

And Rapinoe publicly called out FIFA for three finals being played on the same day.

With Norway’s Ada Hegerberg refusing to play in the tournament on the grounds of equality, women’s football has done as much talking off the pitch as it has on it over the past four weeks.

The crowd’s shade to Infantino on the biggest stage for women’s football felt like a defining moment.

Long may that continue. 



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