clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Official: The Serie A Femminile season is canceled, AC Milan’s Champions Leagues dreams die with it

Don’t dream, it’s over.

AC Milan v Orobica - Women Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s official: Serie A Femminile will not resume the season.

The league’s season has officially been terminated.

I first broke the news on my Twitter page, but soon, confirmation came from other media outlets as well.

If you’ve been paying attention, this was unfortunate, but also inevitable. The fate of the women’s league was yet another casualty of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

It was also a victim of a system that viewed the women’s needs as ‘secondary’ to everyone else’s. The women themselves had accepted that their issues would be put on the backburner as other issues (involving the men) would take precedence. There were hopes that Serie A Femminile would be a light and a beacon to the world, much like the Frauen-Bundesliga has been.

Well, those hopes have ended.

Although we got the sense that this was coming, we can’t help but feel disappointed as well.

The Serie A Femminile season has officially been canceled

The season’s termination means that AC Milan’s hopes of making next season’s Champions League have died along with it.

Instead, as was confirmed by the FIGC, it will be Fiorentina who will be playing in next season’s competition. It will not be the Rossonere.

Juventus is still in first place, which means they’ll be joining the Viola in the competition. They will not, however, be assigned the scudetto. Unlike the FAWSL, which declared Chelsea the winner, the Bianconere will not be the queens of Serie A’s prom.

Orobica will also be relegated to Serie B, while Napoli will be promoted to Serie A. (Napoli Femminile, btw, have no relation to the men’s side in Serie A.)

There might be further promotions and relegation as well. It is rumored that San Marino might be heading to Serie A, while Tavagnacco will be relegated.

Tavagnacco, if you recall, were one of the teams who wanted the season to restart. They have also threatened legal action in court if they were relegated.

This is definitely something to keep an eye on within the upcoming days. Serie B will also be expanded to 14 teams to cope with all the relegation and promotions the league will experience. There is no word on Serie A yet, but for now, it looks like the league will remain a twelve-team championship.

The final league standings were based on an algorithm that had been implemented by the FIGC.

AC Milan were denied a chance to play next season’s Champions League because they had five fewer home games than Fiorentina.

As was noted by Football Italia, Serie A Femminile was also the first Italian championship to be decided by an algorithm too.

A long summer full of regret

Let’s be honest here: Milan not making the Champions League was inevitable.

While the season started off brightly for the women, with a surprise victory over a Roma side who were supposed to be ‘stronger’ than them, followed by victories over crosstown rivals Inter and managing to be the only team to stop Juventus, the seeds of destruction were planted early on.

They were planted when the team barely eeked out 1-0 victories over the likes of Sassuolo and Hellas Verona. They began to fully bloom with the 2-1 loss against Florentia.

The inability to score more than one goal against the likes of Orobica came back to haunt them. Their fate, however, was sealed with a 2-1 loss against Empoli.

Those budding blossoms that we planted eventually became oleanders, and we drank their poison. Ultimately, AC Milan were unable to overturn their five-goal deficit with Fiorentina. The hope was that they could play them head-on and head to Europe by finishing second on the table.

Now, this will not happen.

The fact that the players were against the possibility of playoffs also made this inevitable. As upsetting as the final decision was, ultimately, Milan were the architects of their own downfall.

All they can do now is spend the summer reflecting on the mistakes they have made, and try to do better next season.

Yeah, about that algorithm

The only point that will be made about the algorithm here is, as was noted before, this was the first time an Italian championship was decided by that process.

The decision has invoked mixed feelings about how the women are being used as guinea pigs for an experiment. This is sadly, something that happens quite often

We saw the same thing during last year’s Women’s World Cup, with the disastrous VAR experiment that ate up several minutes of several games. Now, we are seeing the same thing in Italy with the women’s league. And if any of the men’s teams have to go through what the Milan Women went through, then you can bet that we will not hear the end of it.

One also gets the sense that all of this could have been prevented with better organization. If the FIGC had made a decision about the league earlier, then we could have avoided this whole entire mess.

Looking towards the future

Earlier today, the players of Serie A Femminile had all released a collective statement where they talked about the difficulties they experience. They also spoke about reforming women’s football in Italy and becoming professionals.

This emergency [the coronavirus crisis] has, in fact, highlighted the fragility of a still young but promising system that has been growing in recent years and that has had to face a hasty and very serious situation.

To date, after many months of inactivity, unresolved health and organizational problems remain and we are almost close to the start of a new season. While discussing the restart, we cannot do it and speak for everyone with the same point of view. Many players still haven’t resumed training. They are not in a position to practice their sport and are disappointed that they lack the opportunity to do so.

We learned about the proposal to end the championship with a reduced formula of play-offs and play-outs involving six of the twelve teams in our championship. We do not share this idea, because we do not see how the sporting integrity would be protected with a model that, in our opinion, does not guarantee true equality. The players believe this: either all of us go out onto the pitch or none of us do. Everyone must be able to fight for their goals, or they must put an end to this season and prepare for the next championship [while] under the same conditions.

What appears as a realization in our eyes, is that our system needs to be reformed. It is time to decide what direction we should take so that similar situations will no longer exist. We are the Serie A Femminile players, people talk about us and about the exploits of the National Team to which some of us belong to and that we feel is ours. But it’s time to guarantee the right protections to all of us, along with a professional status and the real conditions of professionalism.

The statement was also released shortly before the FIGC’s decision to terminate the season. There’s a sense of inevitability in these words, almost as if they knew the season was going to end.

The women’s attention will now be on obtaining the professionalism that has eluded them for so long. While there might be divisions on the pitch, the players are all united with one goal: to reform the entire system of women’s football in Italy.

The players have been living as professionals, as they have practically devoted their lives to this sport. It’s time that they’re finally recognized as the pros that they are.

They’ll do so not only for themselves, but for future generations as well. Their fight will now move off the pitch, and into the boardrooms.

The reforms to women’s football are needed, not only for the reasons listed above, but for whatever disasters might affect the women in the future. Should the players go through something like this again - the hope is that they’ll be in a better position to deal with something like this. That way, they won’t have to wait and wait for whatever decisions will be made on their behalf, only for them to get their hearts broken in the end.

‘When Will I See You Again’

When my father died in 2015, one of the ways I found myself able to cope, was through music.

In particular I found solace in U2’s cover of The Three Degrees’ ‘When Will I See You Again.’ It’s often said you can change the meaning of a song by the way you sing it, and Bono changed a song about missing someone, to a mournful paean about his father’s death.

This is a beginning, this is not the end.

Those words gave me the inspiration I needed to go forward. They made me feel like his death wasn’t the end of the world. Rather, it was the start of the next chapter of my life.

They also gave me hope that I would one day, see him again.

(And this is despite the fact that like most people with taste, I too, hate U2.)

(But in my defense, it is a really good song.)

Indeed, while we’re all disappointed that will be no Europe for the Rossonere, we’re all still incredibly proud of them too. They did their best and tried their hardest, even if they fell short in the end.

We’ll also be there for them next season when they try to do it all again next season. We’ll also be there for them as they fight to be recognized as the professionals that they are.

Their story doesn’t end here. Rather, it is just beginning.

As disappointing as this setback might be, it’s time to move past it. Now, we look towards the future and writing the next chapter in this story.

After all ―

This is a beginning, this is not the end.