While we poured over the ins and outs of yesterday's victory over Sampdoria, there were multiple game-changing announcements made to Serie A Femminile following a meeting of the FIGC council earlier today. The FIGC sorted out the pandemic-induced promotion and relegation schemes, announced a new format for the Supercoppa, set a date for the new season and, most importantly, finally gave us an answer to the question: when will the league professionalize?
It's a question we started asking as far back as December 2019 when the political stage was set for the professionalization of women's sports in Italy. While that was a positive first step (one that we may have read too much into, thinking the professionalization was imminent), it turned out to be just that—a first step.
Then this past February, the FIGC unrolled a plan to elevate the women's game as early as 2021. Since then, the updates have been few and far between, other than, you know, the FIGC deciding not to continue the 2019-2020 Serie A Femminile season. And while the switch won't occur in 2021, the council made HUGE waves earlier today.
Assegnato il titolo di Campione d’Italia 2019/20 alla @JuventusFCWomen.— FIGC Calcio Femminile (@FIGCfemminile) June 25, 2020
Futuro del Calcio Femminile: nuove norme e via al professionismo nel 2022. Tutte le decisioni del Consiglio Federale ➡️ https://t.co/22KCUkYX7Z#CalcioFemminile pic.twitter.com/N6bhwRoMjK
In addition to awarding Juventus the Scudetto (yay) and confirming the promotion of Napoli and San Marino to Serie A (with Tavagnacco and Orobica heading down to Serie B), the FIGC confirmed that Serie A Femminile will be elevated to professional status starting with the 2022-2023 season, which should enable sufficient time to complete the transition for all parties involved.
The council also confirmed that the 2020-2021 season will commence on August 22nd in order to give the national team time to ramp up for Euro qualification. Additionally, due to the suspension of the 2019-2020 season, the council also confirmed that the Supercoppa will include the top four teams from this past season: Juventus, Fiorentina, AC Milan and AS Roma, which gives the Giallorosse an unexpected shot at their first trophy.
But back to the heart of the matter: professionalization.
What Does This Mean for Roma?
Well, first and foremost it means that the players will finally be afforded the rights given to all professional athletes in Italy, including more secure contracts and hopefully higher pay. It's long overdue, but top marks to the women of Serie A, particularly Juve and Italy captain Sara Gama, for continuing to champion this cause.
For Roma (and the league as a whole), this could be a game changer. As it stands right now, clubs are forced to operate under a quasi-salary cap that limits player salaries to €30,000 and total wage bills to roughly €800,000, though there was some slight wiggle room in those figures.
But, free from those restrictions, Roma should not only be able to pay their own players more, but will soon have extra bargaining power when it comes to competing for talent with the other top leagues in the world. None of this will happen overnight of course, but it's another arrow in Roma's quiver.
For the current squad, it simply means they have to bide their time for two more seasons and hope they can retain their core players: Agnese Bonfantini, Manuela Giugliano, Annamaria Serturini, Giada Greggi, Elisa Bartoli, Andrine Hegerberg and Allyson Swaby, among others. With Bonfantini and Swaby each already signed through 2022, they can hopefully transition into professional deals immediately after those expire.
We don't have any contractual details for the rest of the names on that list, but Bartoli and Greggi, being Romans themselves, will hopefully remain with the club long-term, while Giugliano and Serturini have spoken numerous times about their love for the club and the city and Hegerberg was outed as a Roma-lifer last summer.
I wouldn't expect Roma to all of a sudden turn into Lyon or start stealing talent from the NWSL come 2022, but given that they're already one of the best run clubs in the league, having the ability to invest even further into the project should help Roma become a beacon for footballers across the world.
And, yes, I'm still holding out hope for...wait for it...DOUBLE HEGERBERGS!