Online payment platform Alipay announced it will provide 1 billion yuan (USD$145m) in funding for a 10-year project to boost China’s women’s football industry.
The funds will be allocated to improve the Chinese national team’s setup and youth development. The project also includes improving China’s women’s football coaching infrastructure, medical coverage and post-career opportunities for female footballers.
Cai Yong, an executive committee member of the Chinese Football Association said in a joint statement with Alipay reported by AFP: “Women’s football is not just a sport, but also a powerful social cause that encourages girls and women to pursue their dreams and ambitions,” and called the gift “unprecedented”.
The amount Alipay has offered is nearly five times the $30m prize money for this year’s Women’s World Cup, backed primarily by Alipay Foundation, and the foundations of Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, co-founders of online shopping website Alibaba.
The Chinese women’s team have been more competitive internationally than the men’s, finishing runners-up at the 1999 women’s World Cup, and fourth at the 1995 tournament. In comparison the men’s team have only qualified for the World Cup once in 2002, and eliminated in the group phase after losing all three games.