Star soccer players yesterday were joined by lawmakers from three parties at the Legislative Yuan to witness the inauguration of Taiwan’s first organized union for female athletes.
The Taiwan Women’s Football Players’ Association pledges to uphold their collective rights, improve game facilities and playing conditions, and seek equal pay with male players when playing on the women’s national team.
The association’s first chairwoman is Hualian City captain Wang Hsiang-hui (王湘惠).
Wang, 33, has returned to Taiwan after playing professionally in Japan and China.
This year, she led Hualien City to a historic double in local women’s soccer, as they won the Mulan League title and captured the Mulan League Cup, while last year’s champions the Taichung Blue Whale came in second in both competitions.
This is the second local union organized for sports players, after a union was formed for professional baseball players in 1995 and, after encountering many obstacles, was restarted in 2008, Wang said, adding that the association is the first union for female athletes in the nation.
Taichung Blue Whale striker Michelle Pao (包欣玄), who has also returned home after gaining international experience, was this year’s Golden Boot winner after scoring 21 goals.
Pao and Taipei Bravo Bear star Su Sin-yun (蘇芯芸) joined Wang in a display of solidarity for the launch of the female players’ union.
“Our aim is to improve players’ knowledge of the game and to work together to improve our positions when negotiating with club management,” Wang said. “In the future, we can help players negotiate their salaries with teams and protect the rights of female players.”
Women’s soccer could have a better environment in Taiwan, but there are disparities of resources, financial support and facilities compared with the men’s league, Wang said.
“Having a union is the first step toward female players having collective bargaining rights and a mechanism for filing complaints about unfair treatment,” Wang said, adding that female athletes also want improved medical treatment.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳), who heads the soccer governing body in Kaohsiung, presented a congratulations letter to the union from the Asian Football Confederation.
Legislators Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) of the New Power Party and Lai Hsiang-lin (賴香伶) of the Taiwan People’s Party showed their support for female soccer players in Taiwan, as did Chinese Taipei Football Association deputy secretary Chiao Chia-hong (焦佳弘) and Chou Ssu-chi (周思齊), chairman of the baseball players union and a veteran member of CTBC Brothers.
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