Time to level playing field for women footballers

I agree that equal compensation for female footballers is premature ("Bigwigs' no-shows are no deterrent at Senate hearing on Fifa"; July 18).

However, the article sweeps the financial realities of women's football under the rug.

Besides misogynistic attitudes, money is at the heart of the problems in women's football.

Increases in financial equality must be made.

In the United States' National Women's Soccer League, professional players' minimum annual salary is US$6,842 (S$9,356). In England's Football Association Women's Super League, some players earn as little as £50 (S$107) a week.

England captain Stephanie Houghton earns £35,000 annually, while her male counterpart, Wayne Rooney, earns £300,000 per week.

In fact, many female players juggle jobs and training.

Australian midfielder Katrina Gorry, the reigning Asian Football Confederation Women's Player of the Year, works in a cafe, while England and Chelsea Ladies striker Eniola Aluko is a lawyer.

Financial support by national federations is crucial for the development of women's football.

It is no longer acceptable for clubs to reduce costs at women's expense in the way Santos FC dissolved its women's team in 2011 to increase Neymar's wages.

People scorn women's football as they rarely see high-quality matches, which is not surprising given the little coverage it receives.

Perhaps it is true that women's football is in its infancy. But infants grow up quickly. This year's Fifa Women's World Cup has exposed the market for women's football.

As US Senator Amy Klobuchar said, "be ready", because women's football is here to stay.

Nicole Ng Cheuk Hang (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Time to level playing field for women footballers'. Print Edition | Subscribe