Following their progression to the round of 16 at the ongoing Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand on Monday, the entire 23-woman Super Falcons squad are guaranteed $1,380,000 (N1,062,600,000, as at Monday’s exchange rate) as prize money from world body FIFA  for the biggest edition of the tournament, The PUNCH reports.

The Nigerians booked their spot in the round of 16 of the competition for the third time in nine appearances after a goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland in their last group game on Monday to place second behind co-hosts Australia in Group B.

Randy Waldrum’s ladies finished with five points, one point behind The Matildas, who thumped Canada 4-0 in their last game as well to move ahead of Nigeria.

After securing a goalless draw in their first game against Olympic champions Canada, the Falcons followed it up with a stunning 3-2 win over co-hosts Australia, before finishing the job with the stalemate against the already eliminated Ireland.

The Falcons also ended the group stage unbeaten to become the only African country among the continent’s four representatives at the tournament.

The Falcons will know their round of 16 foes — Group D winners — who are likely going to be European champions England or Denmark on Tuesday (today).

For progressing, each member of the 23-woman Falcons squad will get a whopping $60,000 (N46.2m as at Monday’s exchange rate), $30, 000 being their prize money in the group stage and another $30,000 for reaching the last 16.

All players of the 32 teams at the tournament were guaranteed $30,000 for appearing in the group stage and the Falcons will now top it up with another $30,000 when they file out in the round of 16 next Monday.

“That is a lot of money, and it can be used for a lot of things. I know definitely a lot of my teammates are happy for that money. I’m definitely happy for that money,” Falcons right-back Michelle Alozie, said.

Further progress into the quarter-finals will attract an additional $30,000, just as the money rises significantly to $165,000 in the semi-finals.

The players who win the Women’s World Cup will pocket $270,000, the runners-up will get $195,000 and players from the third-placed side will be given $180,000 each.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is the biggest edition ever, with FIFA expanding the tournament to 32 teams and also increasing the prize money significantly.

Last June, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced that the world body would dole out $110m in prize money to the 32 participating teams, which is close to a four-fold increase from the $30m in 2019, allocated for 24 teams.

All the 732 players in the new scheme is guaranteed to receive $30,000, while the 23 players in the winning team will pocket $270,000 each — the first time ever that women players will receive guaranteed pay at a World Cup.

FIFA will distribute $152m to the 32 teams, which includes performance-based funds ($110m), club benefits programme ($11.5m) and preparation money ($30.7m).

The winning team is set to receive $10.5m, out of which $6.2m will go directly to the players. At the same time, the remaining amount will be handed over to the federation, which FIFA expects will be reinvested in women’s football programmes across the pyramid in that nation.

FIFA’s new initiative is significant for many of the players, who in some cases don’t have club teams that pay salaries, are semi-pros or even amateurs. FIFA released a report last year that said the average salary for female players was $14,000 a year.

Meanwhile, Falcons coach Randy Waldrum has acknowledge the magnitude of his team’s performance, after they progressed from the group stage unscathed.

“First of all, I didn’t know that I was the first to take our team through the group stage undefeated. I did know it was a huge task to do that.  I mean, when you look at the Olympic gold medallists and obviously Australia and Ireland as well, if you would have asked me before the tournament, realistically what the odds of doing that, I probably wouldn’t have believed,” Waldrum said at the post-match presser.

“But I think really, and I keep saying it, it’s a testament to these players, they’ve not been given everything that maybe other federations have, but once they got the opportunity to get here, they put everything into it.”

While they await their round of 16 opponents, Waldrum says the team’s journey is far from over.

“I just feel like they all believe we’re destined for something special in this World Cup. I don’t think our journey is over, and I think we’ll be very, very prepared for whoever it is that we’re going to play next week.  So, I just think they have that belief and I give the credit to the players. I just think it’s an amazing group of women.”

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