Unlike their female counterparts, China's male volleyball players have never tasted major victory on international courts as the team is regarded as "neglected" and "marginalized" in the country.
Ding Hui, of the Zhejiang men's volleyball team, quit the team and went to study abroad before the new season because he thought "there's no future of this sport in China."
With no major international victory and, as a result, few commercial sponsorships, China's male volleyball players are struggling with low salaries and subsidies.
Bian Hongmin, who plays for China's national team, earns a salary of no more than 100,000 yuan a year, compared with Ding Jinhui, a player on the national basketball team, who makes at least 2 million annually.
The players' income mainly comes from the nation's volleyball administration, which allocates 400,000 yuan to each team in the Men's Volleyball National League. Players on the Guangzhou team get a minimum of 2,300 a month. Combined with some sponsorship and subsidies, they earn about 4,000 on average. National players get no more than 5,000 a month.
The "richest" team, Beijing Beiqi, has an annual investment of no more than 6 million, which is equal to the bonus money from two wins for Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Championships League.