The FIFA world governing body has said it will no longer allow men’s and women’s World Cups in 2022 and 2024.
It is the first time in 20 years that the women’s game has been excluded from the sport.
The decision by FIFA, which has become increasingly unpopular with the public and with many of the game’s biggest stars, comes as millions of fans across the world are increasingly angry at the organisation.
“We are extremely disappointed by FIFA’s decision, which will have a negative impact on the women of our sport,” US soccer star Abby Wambach said in a statement.
“I will not be participating in the 2022 FIFA Women’s World Championship or 2024 FIFA Women World Cup.
I do not think it’s fair to our sport to exclude us.
I have spoken to many of my friends who have also decided to withdraw from participating in any World Cup in the future.”FIFA said the decision came after the women in the world’s largest sport had raised concerns over the 2022 tournament.
The women’s governing body said in January that the decision was not based on any “specific evidence” and had “not been taken to be an indication of any potential risks to the safety of athletes and the fans”.FIFA has previously said that the tournament would be played in Russia.
It also said that in a bid to avoid “political interference” the 2022 World Cup would be held in the former Soviet Union.
A spokesman for the International Federation of Football Associations, which represents world football’s 32 national teams, said the new rules were “a long-standing agreement” and would be in place for all 2023 World Cups.
The governing body’s president, Jerome Valcke, has said he will resign at the end of this year.
But the FIFA statement came amid mounting pressure on the sport to take action over the issue.”FIFA is a sport that has been the centre of a very public debate and that continues to be a key focus for FIFA in the coming months,” said Joaquin Moya, executive director of Save the Children, which works with the World Cup to provide aid to those affected by the virus.
“FIFA must now take concrete steps to end this political interference.”
The 2022 tournament will be played from the start of next year in Russia, and the 2022 women’s tournament will start in the United Arab Emirates from June 5 to July 11.