Alipay commits RMB 1bn to women’s football development

Alipay is looking to help support the development of women’s football in China, by today (5 July) announcing a significant financial commitment to the game.

With the sport very much in the spotlight – the Netherlands take on the USA in the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday – the Alibaba Group payment platform said it will lead a RMB 1 billion (£115.6 million) investment in the game in its home country.

The long-term initiative aims to make the sport more sustainable and accessible to girls and women across the nation, throughout the next ten years. Funded primarily by the Alipay Foundation, a charitable organisation dedicated to promoting social inclusiveness, the package is also supported by Jack Ma Foundation and Joe Tsai Foundation.

Areas of focus will be on injury prevention and treatment, as well as career development of retired footballers. There will also be efforts to improve technical development and coaches’ education, as well as encouraging young people into the game in the first place.

Use of the fund will be jointly managed by the three contributors in conjunction with the Chinese Football Association.

Alipay said the initiative is an extension of its two-year-long programme to support girls’ football in Qiongzhong Li and Miao Autonomous County, Hainan Province.

Eric Jing, chairman and CEO of Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba and the operator of Alipay, commented: “Over the past two years, I’ve seen from the girls in Qiongzhong that football has brought them more than just physical fitness and technical skills. it has also opened doors for them to more life options and opportunities, as well as tenacity and fighting spirit.

“This has strengthened our determination to expand our support and enable more development and innovation in women’s and girls’ football in China.”

China’s national women’s team were defeated by Italy in the second round of this year’s World Cup, having made their way out of the first round group phase after a defeat to Germany, victory over South Africa, and a draw with Spain.

In the UK, interest in women’s football has arguably never been higher, with a peak 11.7 million viewers tuning into England’s defeat to USA in the semi-final on Tuesday night.

This year’s World Cup has also seen a host of retail and retail technology-related companies provide support for the game. Global payments titan Visa launched its biggest ever sponsorship activation for a women’s football event across 33 countries, while Boots, Budweiser and Lucozade were among the brands sponsoring the England team.

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