Gianni Infantino

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USWNT’s Rapinoe on MSNBC: I spoke with Infantino about equal pay

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The USWNT continues its victory lap ahead of Wednesday’s ticker tape parade in New York City, and superstar Megan Rapinoe used her time to hit the television circuit including an interview with “MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Rapinoe was asked about many things over the course of the episode, including the fight for the same pay as the United States men’s national team.

[ MORE: What’s next for USMNT? ]

And she seems confident that the USWNT has won that battle, even saying she’s spoken a little with the highest official in world soccer.

“I even had a brief conversation with FIFA president Gianni Infantino after the game,” Rapinoe said on the show. “I think everyone realizes now, okay, it’s time for the next step. It’s time to work together to get there to a better place. The conversation is not about equal pay anymore. If you’re not down with equal pay or equality by now, you’re so far out of reality and the conversation that we can’t even go there. Nobody wants this contentious fight all the time.”

Rapinoe says that the United States Soccer Federation, FIFA, and all the confederations need to take the next step in their support of the women’s game.

“The (U.S. Soccer) Federation has put a lot of resources and money and support behind the team. They deserve credit for that when we talk about all the other federations of the world. Just because you’re better than someone who’s bad doesn’t mean necessarily that you’re good.”

Rapinoe also said that a next step for fans who love the team would be to support the National Women’s Soccer League.

“We have nine teams in the NWSL,” she said. “You can go to league games. You can support that way. You can buy jerseys, you can tell your friends about it, become a season ticket holder. That’s the easiest way.”

FIFA: Afghanistan coach’s Infantino criticism ‘unjustified’

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LYON, France (AP) FIFA has denounced “ill-informed and unjustified” criticism of its president, Gianni Infantino, after the coach of the Afghanistan women’s national team called him “disgusting” over the handling of sexual abuse investigations.

At a news conference in Lyon ahead of the Women’s World Cup final, coach Kelly Lindsey demanded Infantino’s departure from FIFA for allegedly not being rigorous enough in pursuing officials in the Afghanistan soccer federation.

[ MORE: Jagielka staying in PL ]

FIFA has so far only sanctioned Keramuudin Karim, who was banned for life from soccer last month for repeated sexual abuse of female players while president of the Afghanistan Football Federation.

But in a statement to The Associated Press, FIFA says it is “carefully looking into allegations levelled against additional persons, and will not hesitate to take appropriate measures and impose sanctions if justified.”

FIFA added that Lindsey “is well aware of these efforts and the support that FIFA has provided and we are surprised and disappointed at her criticism, which we consider to be both ill-informed and unjustified.”

The United States plays the Netherlands in Sunday’s final.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Afghan coach ‘disgusted’ by Infantino, wants FIFA head to go

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LYON, France (AP) — The coach of the Afghanistan women’s soccer team says she is “disgusted” with Gianni Infantino over the handling of sexual abuse cases and called on the FIFA president to resign.

FIFA banned Keramuudin Karim for life from soccer this month for repeated sexual abuse of female players while president of the Afghanistan Football Federation.

But coach Kelly Lindsey is angry that only Karim has been punished, saying FIFA “didn’t investigate anyone but the president. They didn’t go any deeper than the top layer. In my mind, it’s not what we need as a leader of FIFA.”

Expanding further on Infantino at a briefing in Lyon at the Women’s World Cup, Lindsey said “I’m disgusted with him as a human being, as a leader of our sport. He should not be president of FIFA in my mind.”

Infantino tells Iran to let women into World Cup qualifiers

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino had asked Iran to ensure women are allowed to attend 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Now he’s expressing disappointment the country has reneged on its commitments.

In November, Infantino was in Teheran for the Asian Champions League final when Iranian women were allowed to watch Persepolis play Kashima Antlers of Japan. But things have changed since then.

[ MORE: Rabiot picks Juventus ]

Infantino wrote this week to Iranian soccer federation president Mehdi Taj to say it’s “all the more disappointing that it was not possible to keep up the positive momentum and to continue with similar progress.”

In a letter seen by The Associated Press, Infantino highlights a June 6 game between Iran and Syria when “the gates were closed to female spectators and when, it would appear, a number of women seeking to attend the match were detained by security forces for a number of hours.”

Infantino says he wants “concrete steps” from the federation by July 15 “to ensure that all Iranian and foreign women who wish to do so will be allowed to buy tickets and to attend the matches” for 2022 World Cup qualifiers which begin in September.

—More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Top FIFA official Boban leaving to join AC Milan

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA presidential adviser Zvonimir Boban is returning to AC Milan as its chief football officer.

FIFA says Boban, the deputy secretary general with responsibility for soccer issues, is leaving within days.

Boban says: “I will always be grateful to FIFA President Gianni Infantino for the opportunity he gave me.”

[ MORE: U.S. falls in FIFA rankings ]

He joins Milan at a low point for the seven-time European champion, which the elegant midfielder helped to win the 1994 Champions League title.

Milan finished sixth in Serie A this season, extending its failure to qualify for the Champions League to six years.

UEFA is investigating Milan’s finances and has threatened the club with a one-season ban from European competitions if it fails to meet targets by June 2021.

Boban also helped Croatia reach the 1998 World Cup semifinals.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports