On Saturday, May 6, 2017, at 3pm, Fiorentina Women’s FC will play its last game of the season against Tavagnacco. Tickets cost 1 euro.
Amidst what has been a tumultuous season for ACF Fiorentina, one point of consistency has been the club’s women’s team Fiorentina Women’s FC, which has won all of its matches bar one, leading them to the top of the Serie A table and likely towards a place in next year’s Champions League. Fiorentina are the only professional team in Italy with an affiliated women’s side and the success of the project, launched in 2015, has led at least five other Serie A clubs to pursue their own female teams.
But the impact of the project goes far beyond the results on the field, and perhaps its main achievement has been the increased number of girls who are now looking to get involved in soccer. In a recent interview with The Florentine, the team’s president Sandro Mencucci told us that since last year the club has been inundated with requests from prospective players that have resulted in adding more teams at the youth level. This is a major goal of the Fiorentina women’s team—to up female participation in the sport at all levels, which Mencucci commented “will only happen through investment from professional clubs and to that end things are starting to change for the positive.”
Italy is obviously a hotbed for soccer, but for too long the women’s game has lagged behind the men’s. Mencucci points out that there are only around 20,000 registered female players here compared with 1 million in Germany and 18 million in the United States. This imbalance is something that Fiorentina is striving to address, initially by building a solid foundation of players from Florence and the surrounding area and eventually by following the example of the men’s Serie A, bringing in foreign stars to increase exposure. So far, media attention has not been lacking as the team was featured in a New York Times article last year.
The city’s response to the project has also been positive and home matches, played at the Stadio Bozzi in Due Strade, draw up to 1,000 fans. In addition, the games are streamed live on the Fiorentina Women’s FC Facebook page and can be seen on Tele Iride, another key component in spreading the women’s game, according to Mencucci. The results have been immediate, with the players becoming recognizable and known around Florence. The president says his dream is to host a match at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, the 47,000-capacity stadium, to share the team’s success with the city and fans that have so far shown great enthusiasm and support.
The team’s passion, Mencucci says, is infectious, and fans have found joy in the purity of the game, which he finds more genuine than the men’s where “too often money takes precedence over sport.” This is, of course, also a conundrum, for the Serie A women’s players are not full professionals, as women are in other countries, and means there is still much work to be done.
But the Fiorentina women certainly aim to change that and have already become a symbol of what is possible for young female players.
As one young girl said recently, “these women are an inspiration for our generation, encouraging us to always move forward and improve. Before I never thought it would be possible, but now I dream of becoming a professional athlete.”
Sign the petition to encourage Fiorentina ACF to allow the women’s team to play at the Franchi stadium.