One of the not so subtle secrets of the lawmaking process in most democracies is the bill amendment and/or rider. Say you're a Senator and you've got a logging bill on your desk but your state needs disaster relief funds, a new highway, or money for a hippo breeding program at the zoo, no problem, just tack on an amendment or a rider to the original bill; it doesn't matter if it has literally nothing to do with the original bill, just add to the end.
Keep in mind, this isn't always a bad thing, and as we saw in Italy on December 11th it can grant a host of rights to otherwise overlooked and/or neglected members of society. In this instance, we're talking about the scores of women playing football (and all sports, really) throughout the Italian peninsula, dedicating their time and, in some instances, physical well-being to growing women's football at every level of the Italian football pyramid despite not being afforded the rights or status of professional athletes.
On that December afternoon, Italian Senator Tomasso Nannicini announced a recent amendment to a budget bill that paved the way for the professionalization of women's sports in Italy, most notably football. With the tide of public opinion swinging in that direction following Italy's storybook run to the Quarterfinals of 2019 Women's World Cup, the efforts of so many advocates, chief among them National Team captain Sara Gama, didn't go unnoticed.
But, as great as that news was, it was only the first step; an opening. While the government approved the measure, the ball was still the FIGC's court, who ultimately had to decide when/where/how to start this shift towards professionalization.
According to multiple sources, the FIGC has done just that:
The original bill passed by Nannicini incentivized the professionalization of women's sports in Italy by offering a variety of tax incentives for clubs and/or organizations that entered into professional contracts, but the FIGC took matters further, doing an extra bit of due diligence examining the state of women's sports throughout Europe. According to their research, there are approximately 1.3 million women playing sports in Europe, with a paltry 1,400 considered full-professionals.
With FIGC President Gabriele Gravina in favor of the proposal, the next step was to analyze the potential financial impact on Serie A Femminile. According to their report, or at least the tidbits made public, commercial revenue in women's football increased by €16 million over the past year, with a 27% increase over the past four years.
Taken with the trend of new, larger clubs getting involved in Serie A Femminile, the FIGC has proposed three paths towards professionalization. Option one would see professionalization for all athletes, while options two and three would set age requirements, reportedly 19 and 21-years-old, respectively. Either way, the FIGC hopes to implement these new measures starting in the 2021-2022 season.
We'll pass along more specifics as they become available, but it goes without saying; this is HUGE news and should facilitate the growth of Serie A Femminile and hopefully help the clubs both retain and lure top talent at home and abroad.
So, while we wait for official word, let your mind wander to our dream scenario...