Outside of Germany, most of Europe’s top women’s football leagues have decided not to resume play following the suspension of play due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is one outlier, though: Serie A Femminile, which has yet to actually make a decision as to whether its 2019-20 campaign will actually continue or shut up shop for the summer and start things up as autumn is about to begin again.
And as the first-full week of June arrives, you can tell that players themselves, the ones who have been forced to wait in a holding pattern for the better part of the last month as they watch the Serie A men get close to returning to game action, are demanding some answers.
That’s because in a joint statement sent on Monday morning from the players of Serie A Femminile through the Italian Players Association, they remained steadfast in unison as a decision continues to be pushed back: “Either we all return to the pitch, or no one does.”
Lettera aperta delle calciatrici di Serie A!https://t.co/9tOsGo1b68#DomanièOggi #DareToMoveForward @assocalciatori pic.twitter.com/tVEG35ValT— Sara Gama (@SaraGama_ITA) June 8, 2020
That is from Juventus Women captain Sara Gama, one of the leading forces in trying to get women’s footballers in Italy to be officially deemed as full-time professionals. But she wasn’t alone. Virtually every single Juventus Women player posted the letter on social media. And when I mean every single one, I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE. Gama did. Martina Rosucci did. Barbara Bonansea did. Aurora Galli, Laura Giuliani, Lisa Boatin, Cristiana Girelli all did it, too. And there are more — plenty more — where that came from whether it’s from those who wear Juventus colors or call Serie A Femminile their place of work.
And they have a legitimate gripe, folks.
As the Serie A men get ready to restart games in a little under two weeks from today, the decision on whether the women’s season will continue remains a total crapshoot. There have been times where it looked like the season wasn’t going to be resumed. (Most notably, a report from Tutto Calcio Femminile two weekends ago that suggested that Serie A Femminile clubs have had serious doubts about the season being completed and could go as far as handing in a formal request to not resume the 2019-20 campaign.) Other times, including recently, there was at least some growing momentum in Italy that the Serie A Femminile season could be restarted, with a decision possibly coming last week.
As of late last week, Juventus was one of just three teams training, and that’s only because AC Milan and Sassuolo started to return to the team facilities last week.
A lot of this has to do with the safety of the players amid the coronavirus pandemic. It’s nowhere near as easy for women’s teams in Italy — especially those that aren’t backed by their male counterparts’ big bank accounts — to withstand the financial demand that would come with testing players as much as they need to be tested. The likes of Juventus, Milan, Roma, Fiorentina and Inter may be able to manage the financial burden, but that’s not so much the case of the much, much smaller clubs that are in the bottom half of the Serie A Femminile table.
Other issues pertain to the playoff and potential playout system if a full schedule can’t be put forth during a potential resumption. They want to make sure that, with a lot of momentum over the last couple of years helping with the push to make the players professionals, they are able to get the positive outcome and go about their jobs in a safe manner whenever the games do actually happen again.
“The players are very confused today. We are not afraid to admit it,” Monday’s joint statement said. “We were united in one thought in these months, now we are not. And this is because the wait generates doubts, especially as to how it was lived.”
Juventus, which last played on Feb. 22 in a 4-0 win over Hellas Verona, is in line to win its third straight Scudetto since starting up a women’s program. Juve are currently nine points up on Fiorentina with six games to be played. Or, I guess that’s if they’re actually played.