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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 17:15 GMT
England women angry at 40 wage
By Jacqui Oatley

Eniola Aluko
Aluko took home 1,400 for five weeks at the World Cup
England women's footballers have criticised the Football Association after getting just 40 a day for the five weeks at the World Cup in China.

The team reached the quarter-finals but players claim fitness levels are now suffering as they work extra hours to claw back wages lost from their jobs.

"Two months back from China, people are still working to recoup the money," said Chelsea striker Eniola Aluko.

An FA spokesman said investment in the women's game had never been higher.

606: DEBATE
DW

Alex Stone, who represents the FA on women's football, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The money that goes into women's football each year from the FA is currently at an all-time high - it's 4.5m.

"That goes into financing the grass roots of the game, a salary development officer in each county to get more girls playing in schools, and we have a full-time scholarship at Loughborough University for 20 students each year - we pay their accommodation fees and tuition fees - and finance five elite teams.

"The point to make here is that the men's game has had a 100-year start on women's football and we hope in the not-too-distant future that the women's league will be completely different product."

Aluko maintains the women are not asking to be paid the same as the men but to receive similar financial help to their counterparts in the United States and Sweden.

"We all feel the same, that we don't feel respected. Players had to take unpaid leave and some are now not able to sustain training because they don't have the time because of the money lost in China," said the 20-year-old.

"We are all grateful that we went to the World Cup but realistically we can't sustain the level of progress because of employment issues.

In the 14 years since the FA has run women's football, the budget has never been bigger

FA spokesman
"Our fitness levels that were tested at the last camp were significantly lower than they were at the World Cup in China," she added.

The England player's comments come on the same day as the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation conference, which is being opened by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The WSFF wants a public debate on how to engage women in physical activity.

It says many women currently feel under more pressure to be thin than healthy and are put off exercise from an early age - typically by school sport.

And women desperately need greater sporting role models than the wives and girlfriends of football stars, it says.

Women's football has made a breakthrough but clearly there's a long way to go and we know that

FA spokesman Alex Stone
Aluko's team-mate Vicky Exley, who retired from international football earlier this month, added: "I think the FA could review the women's game and look at contracts for players.

"I think that's the way forward if we want to compete in World Cups and the European Championships."

"We're just having our say. We work hard for our money and just want to get noticed."

But Stone said a review at the FA was already under way.

"We've been actually conducting a strategic review of the women's league since June this year and the findings will be presented to FA board in early 2008," said the FA spokesman.

"And one of the key issues to work on for the FA is to find out how we can make that product more attractive to sponsors, broadcasters and people who want to come in and watch the game.

"Clearly we hope that the finances we might generate filter through to the players.

"Women's football has made a breakthrough but clearly there's a long way to go and we know that which is why we're working incredibly hard to try and change that status quo."

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