The China women’s national soccer team, known as the Steel Roses, secured its ninth AFC Women’s Asian Cup Title in a dramatic, record-extending victory over South Korea.
The Steel Roses had a dramatic comeback from two goals down to defeat South Korea by 3-2 in Navi Mumbai, India on Feb. 6, reported the Associated Press.
With less than 25 minutes in the game, goalkeeper Zhu Yu managed a point-blank save from South Korea’s Son Hwa-yeon. China’s Xiao Yuyi then scored the last-minute winning goal, earning their nation’s ninth Women’s Asian Cup trophy after 16 years.
“At half-time I told the players not to give up as anything can happen in 45 minutes,” China head coach Shui Qingxia said, according to the South China Morning Post. “We are delighted to win the title and we are going in the right direction in tactical, technical and psychological terms.”
Shui, who never lost a single match, won the trophy as a player five times.
“We played well in the first half and it was great to score but we have to reflect on what happened in the second,” South Korea’s first goal scorer Choe stated, according to the Associated Press. “We did show that we have progressed as a team and have to keep moving forward in the future.”
China’s Steel Roses collected a prize money of about 30 million yuan (approximately $4.7 million), according to the Global Times. The prize included 6 million yuan (approximately $942,400) won from the tournament championship and 10 million yuan (approximately $1,570,600) given by Mengniu Dairy, the women team’s official sponsor.
Following the team’s victory, the hashtag “pay raise for women soccer players” reportedly went viral on Weibo, with Chinese netizens demanding economic equality for the women’s team, according to SupChina.
Netizens highlighted the success of the women’s national soccer team over the men’s team, who were eliminated from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. The best paid players in the women’s leagues, which have proven popular on TV and social media, reportedly make less than one-fifth of the men’s salaries.
As the disparity remains in discussion, companies including the Chinese Football Association and Chinese payment platform Alipay have promised bonus prize money for the team’s victory, according to SupChina. Alipay will be giving 13 million yuan (approximately $2 million), and the Chinese Football Association is giving a bonus that “may surpass” 10 million yuan (approximately $1,570,600), according to Global Times.
Sunday’s tournament officialized South Korea and China’s advancement to the 2023 World Cup, along with semi finalists Japan and Philippines. The event will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand and is scheduled to take place from July 20 to Aug. 20, 2023.
Featured Images via @afcasiancup (left, right)