June 25th is a noteworthy day, and it is for several different reasons. The first of which is that it’s the one-year anniversary of Italy’s fantastic match against China during last year’s Women’s World Cup.
The Azzurre won the match by two goals (including one from our Valentina Giacinti) and more importantly, heralded their presence on the world stage through that victory. They also cemented themselves as a global power that was on the rise.
One of the main catalysts for their success during that tournament was by developing the players in Serie A Femminile. The league has been around since the 1960s, but it was only when teams like Fiorentina entered the league did it truly change. The players who played for teams that were affiliated with men’s teams benefited the most from this transition.
Players like the previously mentioned Giacinti, along with the likes of Cristiana Girelli and Barbara Bonansea all reaped the rewards of playing for teams like Milan and Juventus.
Being affiliated with those teams allowed them to have access to everything their male counterparts have. It granted them access to the same facilities that the men use, along with applying the same knowledge and know-how to them, which has raised the overall level of the women’s game in Italy.
We saw the results of this on the pitch, as it allowed the Azzurre to make a historic run towards the quarterfinals.
Although they ultimately fell to a superior Dutch side (who mind you, also had to rely on cheap and petty theatrics despite their ‘advanced’ technical abilities), the Azzurre came away from that encounter with their heads held high.
They may not have won the match, but they managed to win other ways. First and foremost, they won the affection of the fans who had watched them. They won the hearts of the fans who had been starved of Italy in the competition, and who missed celebrating the country’s exploits on the world’s biggest stage. The Azzurre also showed great character, as they made up for whatever deficits they had by employing a combination of astute tactics, an animated spirit, an ample amount of determination, and a hearty dose of grinta.
It was something quite familiar to the fans of Italy, while also being something uniquely different: this was, after all, the first time we had seen those traits displayed by the women in a highly visible way.
The Azzurre took hold of the pens and became the scribes that wrote themselves as the heroes of their own story.
They made fans of calcio italiano proud, and we fell in love with them. No more was the love affair stronger than in Italy, where the women were met with praise and adulation when they came back home from France.
The Italian public was grateful for the distractions they had provided for the country’s woes. They were also grateful for the pride they had restored in Italian football as well.
It was also thought that the best way to show the country’s gratitude was to make these women professionals. The charge was led by FIGC president Gabriele Gravina, who declared that the federation was working on granting them the professionalism they had long fought for.
The fruits of their labor culminated in today’s announcement. However, most of the credit belongs to the women themselves, as they were the ones who lobbied long and hard for this change in status.
Therefore, if anyone deserves the credit for this victory, it’s the players themselves.
The players of Serie A Femminile are finally going to become professionals
This was the official announcement of the FIGC.
Among the important highlights of the FIGC’s official announcement:
- Serie A Femminile will begin the process of professionalization during the year 2022. In the federation’s words, they will begin ‘the launch of a gradual project aimed at recognizing professionalism’ for the women during that year. The process will begin during the 2022/2023 season, with the goal of allowing the league to become fully professionalized.
- This also means that for the first time, Italy will have professional athletes who are women. At the moment, none of Italy’s women athletes are professionals. Once Serie A Femminile professionalizes, however, this will change. It will also be a historic and momentous occasion that will allow other women to become professional athletes in the future.
- Juventus has been assigned the Serie A Femminile scudetto. They had the most points (44) when the league was prematurely shut down. This also includes a nine-point differential with both Fiorentina and Milan. Therefore, they have been crowned the season’s champions.
- Napoli and San Marino have both been promoted to Serie A. Orobica and Tavagnacco have been relegated. There was also a slight delay in confirming the two, former teams’ promotion because another Serie B team thought they should be promoted in their place instead. In the end, however, the algorithm prevailed. The correct decision also prevailed too.
- Serie A Femminile will remain a 12-team championship.
- The league’s next season will begin on August 22nd. The championship will also start earlier than it did last season, and it will do so with Italy’s European qualifiers in the fall in mind. The goal is to allow the Azzurre to get in shape so that they can be better prepared for their crucial matches against Israel and Denmark during their qualifying campaign.
- There will be a Final Four playoff for the Supercoppa Femminile. The four in question are the current top four in the Serie A table. The teams are Juventus, Fiorentina, AC Milan, and AS Roma, and they will be competing for the next edition of the Supercoppa.
Looking Towards The Future
Professionalizing Serie A Femminile has been something that was in the making for quite some time. It will come at a vital time for the women too.
Making the players professionals by then will, no doubt, bolster their chances of going far in that tournament. By professionalizing the league, it means that the standard of play will be raised for the championship, as better players will want to play in it.
Professionalism means a potential increase in team budgets and salaries. Being able to raise the salary limit from the current €30,000 a year means attracting a better standard of player. And you have to play against the best to be the best.
Of course, we don’t know if the FIGC will remove the current salary cap or even raise its ceiling. But one can dream now, can’t they?
AC Milan is currently going through yet another summer upheaval. Unlike last year’s revolution, this one won’t be as drastic. The current series of departures are being done to cull the excess weight from the squad.
There are two exits that will hurt more than others though. Among those departing are two fan favorites, with the two being Nora Heroum and Stine Hovland. Their departures will cause a lot of heartaches and no doubt, cause the most pain.
However, their departures will not be in vain. Milan has a concrete plan in place to improve the squad. Their farewells should be viewed as part of that plan (even though it will be really, really sad to see them go).
Professionalism is about two years away, but we can only dream of just how much the change in status will improve the AC Milan Women. It might make the possibility of them winning the scudetto and making a deep run into the Champions League a reality as well.
For now, let’s just celebrate the present victories.
The women of Italy will finally become professionals.
And it’s been a long, long time coming.
But a change gonna come. Oh yes it will.