Women’s Football Finally Deemed A Professional Sport In Italy

It took 50 years, but it finally happened.

Earlier this year, Juventus upset European giant Lyon in the Women’s Champions League quarterfinals, sending shockwaves through Europe. Though Lyon won the second leg and advanced on aggregate, it was a sign Italian women’s football was not to be trifled with. Not bad for a team playing in a league that until now hasn’t been fully professional.

Italy’s soccer federation (FIGC) announced Tuesday the women’s Serie A will be fully professional starting in the 2022-23 season. Yes, Italy did not have a fully professional soccer league before now. 

About damn time.

“We have brought to life and given the definitive legal base for the transfer (of women's Serie A) to professional soccer as of July 1,” FIGC president Gabriele Gravina told reporters.

This move has actually been in the works since 2019, since the Italian government passed a law for a three-year transition into the league from allowing semi-pro clubs to making sure every team is fully professional. Before that law was passed, top-flight women’s players in Italy were making as little as $67 per week with an $86 match bonus. Tuesday’s ruling was the final step toward making the transition official.

For decades in the 1900s, women’s football was outlawed in many parts of Europe. Though Italy was one of the first European nations to introduce a women’s league in the 1970s, the players were always part-timers. While some of the Serie A clubs have formed fully professional sides — Juventus is one of the top women’s teams in Europe as evidenced by their narrow 4-3 aggregate defeat to Lyon this year — not every club has delegated the finances to pay their players as full-time athletes.

What this the move to being fully professional means for the players of Juventus and the other nine teams in the league (two fewer than the 2021-22 season) is the removal of a salary cap, which should significantly increase player salaries. 

“It will be the start of a new challenge which will see us involved as a system in taking advantage of all the opportunities of this epochal change,” said Italian Footballers’ Association president Umberto Calcagno.

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Currently, Juventus leads Serie A Women with 53 points, five ahead of Roma with two matches to play. 

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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