Juventus F.C. Women – Passion Above All
Now over to Turin for GAFFER’s last stop in the calcio femminile series. Juventus Women have won two Serie A titles in their debut and second year in the league. They have lost only three total league games. The squad has proven themselves as a powerhouse in the Italian and global football competition just in time for the start of the World Cup.
Juventus F.C. is known as the “old lady” of Italian football. They have been in existence for over 100 years and were even once declared Italy’s best club of the 20th century.
Juventus Women is a young team, but their reputation is no different than that of the wider club. They acquired their Serie A license in 2017 and their growth has been both quick and strong. The club has made massive investments in the women’s side, however, it is still only a mere fraction of the resources that the club allocates to the men.
Juventus serves as a prime example of just how much progress women’s football in Italy has made in so little time. Back in March of this year, the team played in the men’s Allianz Stadium for the first time, a decisive top-of-the-table league match against Fiorentina, in front of a record-setting crowd of 39,000. The previous attendance record for an Italian women’s league match was 14,000.
“Juventus Women is – in a single word – passion. A passion that came suddenly, but has been overwhelming since. It is pure emotion. It combines my love for Juventus as a fan with the affection for the players, but also with regard that these women have to fight not only on the pitch, but especially off of it, for their everyday rights,” said Sabrina Carbone of the Juventus Women Supporters group.
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the World Cup. This is Italy’s return to the tournament after a twenty-year hiatus. This is symbolic more than anything else, especially considering the Italian men’s inability to qualify last year.
Over the course of the competition, the Italian, female squad will be better known as Le Azzurre. The team had a spot in Group C along with Australia, Brazil, and Jamaica. Juventus players make up for about one third of the Italian squad and so far they have demonstrated their chemistry.
Italy defeated Australia in their first match last week, thanks partly to some star Juventus players. Barbara Bonansea was named player of the match after scoring two of the team’s goals. Starting goalkeeper, Laura Giuliani, saved a penalty.
In their second match on Friday, Aurora Galli scored two goals off the bench while Christiana Girelli scored a hat trick, the first to be scored by the Italian Women’s team in a World Cup. Despite the loss in their third match against Brazil, Italy finished on top. Predictions did not suggest such success for Italy in group play.
For the first time, Le Azzurre featured in the primetime spot on RAI Uno, Italy’s most widely watched channel. This announcement came just before the start of the knock-out stage. Over the last week, the Italian Women have been featured on the country’s biggest sports newspapers, and they have gained arguably more media attention than ever before.
“In Italy, the women’s football movement is growing. We still have many steps to take, but it’s heading in the right direction. I think we need a change in mentality not only towards women’s football, but women’s sports in general, which will create a more respectful, open-minded, and positive society,” Carbone said.
So far, the World Cup has brought a slew of achievements for the women in blue. It has also brought new hope for little girls with a ball between their feet watching at home.
While the fight for gender equality in Italy has been slow compared to other European and Western countries, perhaps we have something greater to take away from Italy’s example. Gender equality in football and in sport still has a long way to go everywhere.
What Italy has proven is that change can happen quickly if players, fans, coaches, and managers hone in on some of the qualities that the Italian women boast. These are determination, collaboration, skill, and a refusal to take no for an answer. Above all, for the Italian women, it’s passion. Thanks to the strong group of female teams in Italy, calcio femminile has made massive strides in recent years and they are showing it off on the world’s football stage.