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The Quiet Storm Brewing for the AC Milan Women and That Could Explode

Something ain’t right.

AC Milan v AS Roma Women - TIMVISION Women Cup Final
The Cost
Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

When approaching a situation as delicate as addressing the rumors of unrest at a club, it’s hard to write about the ordeal in a way that remains nuanced.

Especially when it comes to a story about rumors of a rebellion against a coach. It becomes even more difficult when it revolves around your own team. And that team happens to be AC Milan.

According to Tutto Calcio Femminile, the reason for the unrest is that both Vero and Vale fought with coach Maurizio Ganz. The reasons why are ambiguous, though it seems to be based on the fact that they disagreed with his coaching style.

The evidence that there’s something wrong at Milan is plain for everyone to see. Vero Boquete has not been summoned for the past few matches, despite her enormous talent. Valentina Giacinti has started two of her last three matches on the bench. After she scored the game-winner against Empoli, she turned towards the stands and made a heart gesture with her hands. Some say she did so in support of Vero.

And when she was finally in the starting XI of the match against Pomigliano, she was noticeably stripped of her captain’s armband.

Spectators who attended the game also reported that she seemed nervous after it ended. They reported that Vale refused all requests for an autograph, except for one from a small child (Instagram). One could surmise that something was weighing heavy on her mind for her to act this way.

Some have also noted that they weren’t the only players who clashed with Ganz. Valentina Bergamaschi reportedly argued with him over his confusing instructions during that same game. She didn’t know what her position was on the field and turned back to the bench to try to get clarity over it. Bergamaschi wore the captain’s armband for that match too.

And this entire situation has been about as clear as mud.

So far, Milan have been real quiet about what’s going on. Attempts to get clarity on the issue have been met with a rigid and taciturn silence. The whole thing has the same vibe as mommy and daddy locking themselves into a room just so you can’t hear them fighting. They might close the doors, but you can still hear them yelling. And through the insulated walls and thin pine doors, you might hear them saying something about you too.

Your parents’ relentless arguments might also be the opening act before their inevitable divorce.

Tutto Calcio Femminile has also said that team directors Elisabet Spina and Paolo Maldini intervened in the affair, albeit on Ganz’s behalf. Naturally, of course, one shouldn’t be surprised if this had rubbed a few players the wrong way.

They also don’t exclude the possibility of both Vero and Vale leaving in January as a result of this. Verónica has posted cryptic tweets about the matter, including one that has lamented people being stubborn and who don’t want to listen to, or understand what you’re trying to say. Meanwhile, Valentina has noticeably changed her icon and header on both Twitter and Instagram from that of her in a Milan uniform, to pictures of her on the national team. Vale has also posted song lyrics alluding to travel and following someone wherever they go.

Both gestures were subtle, but also conveyed how they feel about the circumstances in a reverberant way.

The timing of the ordeal couldn’t be worse, as it comes on the heels of Verónica participating in the documentary entitled Romper el silencio: La lucha de las futbolistas de la selección (Breaking The Silence: The Struggle of the Spanish National Team Players).

During the documentary, Vero detailed the abuse that she and the other Spanish women endured under the reign of former coach, Ignacio Quereda.

After Spain’s premature exit from the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Vero led the revolt that ushered in Quereda’s removal.

She also paid a heavy price for this, as she was never called up to the national team again. It seems like history is repeating itself in Italy. It’s also worth noting that she has changed her header on Twitter from an image of her in red and black to a picture of her heading to the locker room after Spain’s exit from that same tournament. This could perhaps be viewed as a portent of things to come.

Korea Republic v Spain: Group E - FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015
Signal 13
Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

One of the other players who led the revolt against Quereda was Vero’s former teammate, Vicky Losada. Losada has not only led the movement to have a coach removed not once, but may have done so twice. Former Blaugrane coach, Lluís Cortés, resigned from his position at FC Barcelona last season. This comes after reports of the Barcelona players turning against him and asking the board to remove him.

The reasons why are not clear, but it may have had to do with training methods and his preference for certain players. Barcelona played a packed schedule due to the pandemic, and the team’s training schedules were often grueling and intense.

That led to Cortés clashing with a few players under his charge. Losada was one of them.

She also left Barcelona during the summer and she cited a lack of playing opportunities under Cortés as one of the reasons why.

Laia Codina, Milan’s starting centre-back and Vicky’s former teammate, played at Barça last season. At the moment, the Blaugranes’ young charge is on loan to the Rossonere. This entire situation must feel painfully familiar to her.

The sad thing is, she might have to endure it again, albeit in a different country and with a different team.

It feels like the situation in the Milan camp is coming to an impasse and is slowly reaching an inevitable climax. And pretty soon, the tinder box will explode and everything will be laid out bare.

There are obvious warning signs here. And, to invoke the immortal Kima Greggs from The Wire, ‘Something ain’t right. That s—t ain’t right.’

[Author’s note: CW for gun violence, attempted murder, blood, and swearing]

Kima had this ominous feeling right before she was shot. As of right now, it feels like the Milanisti are the ones in front of the gun. And we ain’t gonna live forever.

Let’s just say that if Milan does lose two of their best players, then it would be an absolute tragedy. It’s hard to replicate the goals and the leadership of Valentina Giacinti. It’s also hard to replace the skills, experience, and guidance that Vero Boquete inspires. Replacing those two is going to be a hell of an ask.

It’s also going to be hard to find two players who will fill the void that they’ll leave behind in the Milan fans’ hearts.

There’s also a chance that they could stay. As things stand, it’s not a certainty that they’ll leave in January. But it’s going to take the type of delicate maneuvering employed by hostage negotiators to diffuse this ticking time bomb.

It’s a shame that it even had to get to this point to begin with. The team is currently standing at the edge of a precipice, where everything is about to fall and be smashed into tiny little pieces.

We also must emphasize that we don’t know the entire story and just what exactly happened. A lot of what has been said about it is based on speculation. And until we get official confirmation of the facts, then most of what has been said will remain supposition. Whatever the case may be, we can only hope that the situation is resolved resolutely and maturely.

We also hope that Vero and Vale will be given the respect that they deserve.

This aside, the Serie A Femminile teams will play in the Coppa Italia this weekend. Milan will play Citadella this Saturday at 14:30 CET. There is expected to be a heavy turnover for the squad, so don’t be surprised if Verónica and Valentina are not present for the game.

Then, the league will go on hiatus for the international break. It will be a welcome respite and one that will hopefully allow cooler heads to prevail. But once the league resumes, the same questions will inevitably be asked again.

We’ll keep you posted about the unfolding saga within the days to come.