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The Steel Roses: pains and gains in the World Cup

By Yutang Sports 29 Jun 2015

Despite being eliminated from 2015 Women’s World Cup after losing to the USA at the quarter-final stage of the competition, China has achieved its best finish in a World Cup since their dejected penalty shoot-out defeat to the Americans in the 1999 final.

This clash was the first time China had faced the USA in a World Cup since 1999. The USA, who are currently world number 2, are ranked 14 places higher than China according to the recently released rankings. It is fair to say that the Americans are stronger than the Steel Roses in the number of women playing soccer and also in terms of development and organization of the sport, which are entirely different in the two countries.

There is a sharp contrast between the 3 million registered female soccer players in the USA and the 300 registered women footballers in China. This small player base makes it difficult to pick even a 23-player squad that can go head to head in international competitions with the soccer powerhouses of USA, Germany, Brazil or Japan.   

In addition, the average salary for the Steel Roses is reported to be only around 40,000RMB (approximately US$6500) a year, which makes their living demands a challenge.

Besides the major challenges that China is facing at the moment such as the less than developed youth training programs and the lack of potential talent, the popularity of the sport among Chinese girls triggers the overriding question. How can the country implement football-related reforms in women’s soccer in China?

Fortuitously, the Steel Roses returned to the mainstream attentions of the Chinese soccer fans and media with their exciting displays in the World Cup. According to Chinese media, the CFA will endeavor to increase the wages for the players, with the ambition being to help half of the players earn top salaries in the region of 300,000 to 400,000RMB ($50,000-65,000). Moreover, The  more media attention the Steel Roses get, the more likely major sponsors will decide to invest. Wahaha, a leading water brand in China, offered a 1m RMB ($160,000) bonus to the Chinese girls if they were to progress beyond the quarter-final.

Source: China Youth Daily

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