Milena Bertolini is from Reggio Emilia and has always loved football, dedicating herself to the sport ever since she played in mixed teams for U.S. Correggese, her hometown team. This year, together with the girls she’s been training since 2017, she thrilled Italy at the Women’s Football World Cup.
STUDIOTRE closely followed the success of the Italian women’s team up until the quarter-finals, not just because Milena is from our hometown, but mainly because, match by match, the Azzurre carried a very important message: football is not just a man’s game.
These footballers have played many matches to reach the World Cup but the most important is the one they have always played against prejudice: “They score lots of goals, just like kids’ youth teams”; “It’s like watching a football match in slow motion”; “They’re clumsy, wannabe men” and the list could almost go on for ever.
In various interviews, Bertolini, the head coach, has declared that “she has become used to sexist insults”: indeed, the fact that football is considered unsuitable for women is not something new for the twenty-first century. If we step back in time, we discover that a few female fans of this sport founded the “Gruppo Femminile Calcistico” (Women’s Football Club) in Milan in 1933, which was severely hampered by the CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee), to such an extent that these women turned to other sports instead.
However, certain figures are showing a change in public opinion in Italy: there was a real boom on social media during the World Cup. According to the estimates published in an article in Vanity Fair “with 1.5 million interactions since the first kick-off, the World Cup has the most comments out of any sporting event broadcast in Italy, and is up there with Formula 1. Set up on 29th May by the Italian Federation, the social accounts of the Italian women’s team have increased their communities in under a month: Twitter has grown from 1,700 followers to 13,900, Facebook from 12,500 to 44,000 and Instagram from 7,000 to 64,000”.
Alongside these figures, there are the words of the President of the CONI, Giovanni Malagò, which show an important evolution for Italian sport: “We must now take advantage of the attention from the public and institutions to try and achieve the transition from the amateur to the professional game, which is one of the first steps to raise the level of women’s football and therefore to show that it can also become a top-level sport in Italy too, just like what’s already been happening in the USA and North Europe for many years”.
Our hope is that Milena Bertolini’s team continues to show the same determination which helped the players fight on the football pitch against prejudice.
The same determination, typical of women, which gave the founders of STUDIOTRE the strength in the 1980s to play their most important match: to overcome the resistance of anyone who didn’t believe in their professionalism and their ability to make a difference in another field, translation and interpretation.
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