Lucy Bronze: Bonus row with FA not a distraction for England's WWC debut

BRISBANE -- England star Lucy Bronze says the bonus row with the Football Association has not been a distraction ahead of the Women's World Cup.

Bronze says the team feel "very empowered" after they issued a collective statement on Tuesday in which they said they were "disappointed" that no resolution had been found with the FA over tournament bonuses and commercial structures ahead of the tournament.

The announcement from the Lionesses came just five days before their tournament opener against Haiti on Saturday in Brisbane, but Bronze is adamant the team are fully focused on delivering on the pitch.

"I'm one hundred percent confident that we will not be distracted by this," Bronze said on Wednesday. "Every single one of our players is fully focused on playing in the games and playing great football.

"If you were to come and watch training, the level of intensity that we have on the pitch is probably second to none right now. The talent that we have coming into this tournament is unbelievable.

"These conversations happen regularly, they're probably just not in the media. They happened before the Euros and I don't think it distracted us then because we went on and won it.

"It's something that we now have to deal with as footballers, the label of 'we're performing athletes, we're role models, we're empowering women around the world, we're changing society.'

"There's many things that fall under the name of female footballer and I think we're fully capable of managing that ourselves. We have a great group of girls that are able to share the load and make sure that we're all focused on what our aim and that is to get to the World Cup final."

Bronze said the team have been galvanised by the collective nature of their statement. "I think the players are feeling very empowered," Bronze said. "I think it's the first time as a player group we've actually ever sent the message out ourselves, that we've collectively done together, that we've collectively done and set our sights on. So I think in that respect it's a very empowered player group last night and this morning these past few weeks."

The statement came off the back of deadlock in talks between the FA and the players over tournament bonuses. For the first time at this year's Women's World Cup, FIFA is paying each player a bonus for competing in the tournament. Each player in the group stages stands to be paid in the region of $36,000 by the governing body.

In previous tournaments, given the lack of a unified central bonus system, some associations paid a fee to their own players for competing. This was the case with the FA in the previous World Cup, but that support has not been offered ahead of this tournament due to FIFA's new payment scheme.

Some nations like the United States and Australia are having their tournament fees bolstered by additional payments from their respective federations, while Germany is one country where players will not be getting an additional boost.

But Bronze says the team's talks with the FA is beyond just about financial reward, but instead with the aiming of improving the game for future generations. "I think people tend to focus on numbers," Bronze said. "I think we're talking about the principle of pushing the game on, of keeping pushing the standards higher and higher. That it's not just about what the figures are about what it represents. "It's the fact that, you know, we want to keep pushing the game further than just being like, 'OK, this is where we sit'. And it's something that we do regularly, every single tournament every single year, you know, what's next, how we can push the game on.

"So these conversations happen regularly, and yeah, people maybe just focus on the numbers, but we're focused on the principle of how we can grow the game and what we can do to, to keep pushing ourselves our own standards, the federation's standards, FIFA's standards, UEFA's standards. "It's about pushing every single angle that we can to make sure that women's football can, you know, smash through that ceiling that we're constantly getting put under."