As I’ve said before, a mark of True Equality™ for Serie A Femminile, is when the politics surrounding the league start to get as complicated for the women as they are for the men.
Well, lo and behold, new complications have, in fact, arisen.
On Thursday, we were supposed to get news on whether the league will resume. And after a four-hour meeting between all twelve teams where they all presented their own positions on the matter, we got ... nothing.
The decision on resuming the league was then postponed until the FIGC’s next Consiglio Federale. The federation’s next meeting will be on Monday, June 8th.
So, what’s going on now?
The season is currently in a state of limbo.
There are several reasons for this. The first of which is that Serie A was given a greater degree of priority. The decisions for the main championship had to come before the decisions for the other leagues were made. Given the great amount of influence Serie A has, along with the amount of revenue it generates, this was understandable. (Even if it is also a little regrettable.)
Therefore, Serie A Femminile had to wait a little longer to have the questions surrounding the league answered.
The main reason for the state of flux, however, seems to center around the health protocols for the resumption of play.
What’s wrong with the health protocols?
We don’t know for sure. But we do know that there are enough problems to cause a bit of controversy. As was stated before, Sara Gama and other Serie A players wanted ‘ad hoc’ protocols that were on par with the requirements for the men.
Gama and a few others felt the current protocols for the women weren’t good enough. Therefore, they needed to be reformed so that the players could safely resume play.
There seemed to be a breakthrough when Ludovica Mantovani had indicated that the protocols had been changed. The revised guidelines would be as similar to the ones for the men, while also acknowledging the reality that many of the teams in the league can’t afford to adhere to the more stringent requirements (such as mandatory quarantine periods).
This, however, didn’t seem to satisfy everyone.
Before the FIGC’s meeting on Thursday, team doctors from the various Serie A teams wrote a letter to the federation, where they started their opposition to restarting the season.
Their reasoning for it revolved around maintaining the safety of the players and staff. The team doctors indicated that it would be difficult to do so under the current circumstances. They also didn’t want to be liable for any of the players getting sick or injured. Some of the doctors even went as far as to resign in protest.
The potential burdens from the guidelines would have been too much for them to bear.
The fact that some of them felt the need to resign is quite troubling. Their resignations also cast doubt on whether the league will even finish the season.
Out of the twelve teams in the league, eight teams are either against resuming play or have their doubts over doing so. The lack of agreement over the protocols is no doubt, a contributing factor to this.
As of the moment, only four teams actually want the league to start again.
Who are the four teams that want to resume the season?
Juventus want to win the scudetto on the pitch, while Orobica and Tavagnacco want to avoid relegation.
And if you’ve been paying attention, then you’d know that Milan are locked in a battle with Fiorentina for the Champions League.
Fiorentina have a five-goal differential with Milan, so the only way that the Rossonere can qualify for Europe is to beat them head-on.
There are some rumors that the Purple Ones aren’t as eager to resume the reason, due to wanting to cement their place in next season’s competition.
(But you didn’t hear that from me.)
What are the problems with restarting the league?
Oh, there are plenty.
Aside from the previously mentioned health protocols, there’s also the issue of funding. As Rita Guarino (Juve’s coach) has noted, the main source of income for a few of the league’s teams has dried-up. The coronavirus crisis has hit many people hard, including the fans and the businesses that sponsor them.
Therefore, without a steady source of revenue, the teams simply don’t have the money to pay for what they’ll need to finish the season.
Guarino also stated that only three teams in the league have the means to resume training. The teams are Milan, Juventus, and Sassuolo.
The fact that only three teams are able to resume training raises a lot of questions. In particular, the spotlight then turns onto the women’s teams who are affiliated with men’s teams.
Are these teams not able to resume training because they lack the necessary funds to do so? Or is it a matter of logistics and infrastructure that is preventing them from returning to practice? And why aren’t the men’s teams, with plenty of money at their disposal, not doing more to help them?
There are, at the moment, no clear cut answers to these questions.
Fortunately, help seems to be on the way for those in need. On Thursday, the FIGC revealed that they have a fund called the ‘Fondo Salva Calcio’ (‘Save Football Fund’), and will give the league €700,000 in assistance. This is also on top of the €10 million that had previously been allocated to help the league professionalize. The money would not only be used to help the teams through this crisis but also help them become professionals as well.
The money will then be distributed to the teams to help them finish the season. That is, of course, if they get the green light to do so.
What happens if the season doesn’t restart?
The FIGC has proposed an alternative scenario to finish the season.
As per Sky, the federation has proposed a system of playoffs and playouts for the league. The playoffs would involve the second, third, and fourth-placed teams together in one bracket. The second group would involve the ninth, tenth, and eleventh placed teams who are battling relegation. They would all play in one location from July 20th to the 30th.
Milan are currently tied for second with Fiorentina. The playoffs between the two sides would, therefore, determine who would qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Anything else we should know?
For this, we’ll once again, defer back to Sara Gama.
Gama doesn’t know if the season will start again. She is, however, hoping that it will, if only for the league to gain greater visibility.
We have already seen the effect that the resumption of play has had on the Bundesliga. People who had previously not paid attention to the league are now tuning in (if only because they’re just desperate for something to watch).
The Frauen-Bundesliga has even benefited from this newfound interest. The fact that the women’s games are being streamed for free greatly benefits the league, and may win over many new converts.
Perhaps Serie A Femminile can benefit from the same type of visibility. Allowing the league to recommence would also put the league on the path to professionalism. After all, if the women’s championship is allowed to resume alongside the ‘professional’ men’s leagues, then there’s no reason why the women can’t be professionals too.
The day of reckoning
FIGC president, Gabriele Gravina, has previously stated that he wants the league to finish the season.
He has also put forth two scenarios to finish the season. The first scenario would involve freezing the league, and finishing it when the worst of the current pandemic has passed. Essentially, the federation would suspend the league, then allow it to pick up where it left off at a later date.
The second proposal is just to end the current season. The decisions to assign the scudetto and who gets to play in the Champions League will come afterward.
Gravina is also said to be the one who will make a final decision on the league if all twelve teams are, once again, unable to find a collective resolution.
The fate of an entire movement will be in his hands. In the end, let’s just hope that whatever decision will be made, will be what’s best for the league and the players.