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2022-02-07 11:12:09

China’s historic win at the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup final on Sunday has prompted campaigns calling for equal pay in sports at home.

Social media users praised the women’s team for “earning back the dignity of Chinese football” after their male counterparts missed out on qualifying for the FIFA World Cup earlier this month. The Chinese women’s team beat South Korea 3-2 during the final in India.

“This is a typical example: The son who took all resources in the family remains nothing, the daughter who has been wronged becomes successful,” read one comment on microblogging platform Weibo. “Please pay them bonuses at the same rate as men’s! Equal pay for equal work!” read another post that has been shared over 45,000 times.

A 2018 report by the Chinese Football Association showed fewer than 20% of female soccer players earned over 10,000 yuan ($1,570) per month. A separate report by the state broadcaster China Central Television’s sports channels the same year found, on average, the top 10 matches as rated by audience ratings were played by the men’s team.

China lacks official data on the income of its male and female soccer players. But a report by state-affiliated media dating back to 2003 showed the annual income of Sun Wen, the main force of the women’s team back then and now deputy president of Chinese Football Association, was only 10% of what an average male Chinese footballer made.

Li Jiayue, a member of Shanghai football team, said in an interview last year that she “dreamt about receiving a bonus” after fans asked if she had “made a fortune” after winning silver in the country’s National Games.

“Do you realize that of the top 10 (international soccer players by income), none of them are female,” she said, referring to the global gender pay gap in soccer.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Chinese team members celebrate their win at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, Navi Mumbai, India, Feb. 6, 2022. IC)