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"We have to change everything from one to ten."

Ji So-yeon (Suwon FC Women's) is calling for the WK League in women's soccer. In order for women's soccer to develop, the WK League must eventually develop, and a lot of things must be changed systematically. It has been two years since she faced the reality of the domestic stage after playing only overseas. "The reality hurts my heart and I feel sorry for it," Ji said.

A representative example is the salary cap system, which has not risen for more than 10 years. Currently, WK League players can only receive an annual salary of up to 50 million won. The league itself restricts players' annual salaries. Ji So-yeon met with reporters after the WK League Awards held at Olympic Parktel in Seoul on the 14th and criticized, "Prices are rising, but the WK League has the same salary cap for more than 10 years."

It is not just the highest annual salary. Rookie players who participated in the draft receive an annual salary of 30 million won (27,800 U.S. dollars) when they are selected in the first round. The second and third rounds will receive an annual salary of 27 million won (27,800 dollars) and 24 million won (23,800 dollars), respectively, and 20 million won (12,800 dollars) after the fourth round. In next year's draft, seven teams selected only one or two players each from the first to third rounds. Instead, they recruited players after the fourth round, which requires less annual salary. In other words, 14 players, or more than half of the 23 players who were nominated, will start their career with an annual salary of 20 million won (17,800 dollars).

Ji So-yeon said this structure not only affects the development of the WK League and women's soccer but also reduces the influx of young players. "When I talk to my parents about what kind of sports my children are going to play, I find it more attractive to golf or volleyball (than soccer). From there, women's soccer will fall behind other sports," she said, stressing that children should systematically create attractions that they can choose from when they are young.

She also stressed the need to increase the size of the WK League, including professionalization, in addition to annual salary. "I think that if women's soccer and the national team are to become strong, the league itself needs to become strong. Each player must make efforts, and each player's skill must be enhanced," Ji said. "We need to increase the number of teams and make the league become professional for competition. We need to change everything from one to ten."

The current WK League is all the more sad because I have personally experienced world-class stages such as the Women's Super League (WSL) and the UEFA Women's Champions League. "Actually, I put down a lot of things since I came to Korea, but it was really sad to see the reality in Korea. Now that I've been outside, I can see everything. It's a pity that nothing has changed despite that," Ji added.
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Monday, December 18, 2023
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