The Federal Council of Italy’s Soccer Federation (FIGC) today announced that the women’s league, Serie A Femminile, will not after all be concluded and that no title will be assigned.
Nine points clear at the top of the standings, Juventus FC Women will qualify for next season’s Champions League alongside ACF Fiorentina who finished level on points with third-placed AC Milan based on a weighted algorithm which took into account how many games each team played at home and away in yet another definition of “sporting merit”.
Added onto points accumulated so far this season was an average of points, deferentially weighted for home and away matches, for each remaining game the teams had yet to play. Using this method, Fiorentina have qualified for the Champions League because they had five home matches remaining, AC Milan only had three, even though one of those was against Fiorentina. Orobica and Tavagnacco were relegated from Serie A to be replaced by Napoli and San Marino Academy from Serie B.
Last Thursday, FIGC President Gabriele Gravina guaranteed to commit €700,000 to the 12 Serie A sides from over €21 million generated by the Calcio Salva fund “for the recovery and completion of the 2019/20 season”. Ultimately this would not prove enough. Earlier in the day, the Association of Italian Players (AIC) published an open letter expressing their frustration with the situation. “The players are very confused today. We are not afraid to admit it. We weren’t, we were united in one thought in these months, now we are not. And this is because the wait generates doubts”.
Following several meetings on how best to move forward, the clubs could not come to a consensus on how to conclude the season which had six rounds to play. A final play-off round involving six of the twelve teams to be played on neutral territory was rejected as the AIC explained, “we do not see how sporting merit can be protected by a game mode that in our opinion would not guarantee true fairness. The players think this: either we all go out on the pitch or no one goes down there”.
Only a few of the teams had resumed training many players were not keen to resume playing matches. The club’s doctors were doubtful about the applicability of the medical protocol and felt that the players would need more than a month of preparation before they would be ready to play. The AIC went on, “We were told that there was a will to try and keep us going so as not to spoil the beautiful path that women’s football was doing in our country. Open to any solution, we made ourselves available to understand if there were the appropriate conditions to continue”.
“While we waited and worked on a recovery, however, the true reality of our sport also emerged today. The emergency has in fact highlighted all the fragility of a still immature but promising system that has been growing in recent years and that has had to face a dramatic and very serious situation”.
In a statement, Gravina today conveyed his regret at the decision. “We decided, I’m sorry, to suspend the women’s football championship. As far as I’m concerned it’s a negative note. It would have been beautiful for the whole movement to give equal dignity to the girls regarding the conclusion at least of the most important championship “.
President of the Women’s League, Ludovica Mantovani described the cancellation of the league as “a painful decision” and vowed to get “immediately to work to plan the new season”.
“Unfortunately, despite everything, the positions taken by the clubs have remained highly fragmented and on the footballers’ side there is no clear and compact front in wanting to play today”. The AIC while saying “we do not comment on the continuation or otherwise of this season” also expressed their hope that the situation could bring about lasting change. “We also believe that the real opportunity that has emerged in recent months, or perhaps a need that can no longer be postponed, is to push this system upwards”.
“It is time to guarantee the right protection for all players – professional status and real conditions of professionalism”.