A while back on Twitter, I stumbled across an account called “Milan Ladies.” My first question was whether this was one of those accounts run by guys but using 15 year-old pics of female models in Milan kits and claiming to be girls just to get followers. But no, this account said it was the official account of Milan Ladies, playing in Serie B. So I followed. And I have learned so much since then. I mean did you even know there was a Milan women’s team? I didn’t. And everything I’ve learned about these awesome women since then has made them my heroes of calcio.
|Girls just wanna have fun|
First of all, I must confess that I’m not a big fan of women’s sports. People find that strange, since I am a woman myself. And I am not a feminist, either. But hearing about the disparity between the US Women’s national team and the US men’s team last year made me realize that maybe I need to pay more attention. Especially considering those women have won three World Cups and the men… well their best finish was third place in the inaugural World Cup in 1930. But the men still get more money for their failure, even more per diem than the women, even though they’ve done nothing to deserve it and the women have done everything to deserve it.
That said, the disparity between men's and women's football is much, much larger in Italy. For example, the entire women’s Serie A budget is €3m per year. To put that in perspective, less than Montolivo gets paid. Speaking of getting paid, the women in Serie A have a salary cap of €25.000. Some of the teams even get medical treatment through the club, and some of them don’t even have to wash their own kits. The games are not broadcast on TV, unlike in England and some other leagues where women’s games are broadcast. Currently there is only one team in the women’s Serie A affiliated with a men’s Serie A team, and that is Fiorentina, even though it used to be that all the big clubs had affiliated women's teams in Serie A. When you compare Serie A to women’s leagues in the other countries with major leagues, or even smaller countries, the disparity between the men’s and women’s teams is pathetic.
|Truly playing only for the love of the game|
And that’s Serie A. My new heroes play in Serie B. They are an amateur team. They play on fields that are used by youth teams. There are no stadiums, no tv coverage, no big fat paychecks, or even some of the basic things that men’s clubs always take care of for their athletes. But these women are my heroes, because they truly play for the love of the game, no matter what the circumstances. And they are positive an actively seeking to grow the women’s game so that more women can play. They are simply amazing.
Milan Ladies was originally ACF Milan, founded in 1965. All of the big clubs had associated women’s clubs – Juventus, Inter, Roma, etc. But in the early to mid 1980’s, all of that stopped. So some of the clubs, like Milan, continued on playing amateur women’s football. Today, they are still fighting to grow the sport, still playing and sweating blood for the shirt. And while the women’s leagues in the other major footballing nations are growing, Milan Ladies are still working to find that growth.
|A flashback to the Milan Ladies of 1988|
Sad, too, because they manage to do things that our men’s team can’t seem to do, like strengthen their midfield. This summer, they added two players to their midfield, both of whom crossed the Milan line from Inter to come play for Milan. So awesome. And their twitter account is fantastic – fun and informative, and they even have great April Fool’s jokes. I know the account helped me to fall in love with these women who are playing for all of the right reasons, without all of the sponsors, million euro salaries, and so many other perks that the men take for granted.
I read an article that quoted Tavecchio as saying they were looking to have the women’s teams play before their associated men’s teams to try to help build the women’s leagues, which has been done successfully in other countries. But that article was written two years ago, and nothing has happened. So the Milan Ladies anxiously await more investment in AC Milan and helping to build a better, stronger league. Parity is way too much to expect, but giving the women safe pitches to play on, good medical care, and maybe some wages, no matter how small, would be a step in the right direction for women’s football in Italy. Not to mention that some investment could make them more competitive and allow them to play in Serie A once again.
|A little support for these women would go a long way|
So if you are even half as disturbed as I am at the conditions of women’s football in Italy compared to other countries, there is something very small but very easy that you can do to help our Milan Ladies: follow them on social media. We may not get to watch the games, but their Twitter account is great at updating on game days and is always a great follow. More importantly, our support on social media will show the powers that be that it’s time for Italian women to get to play their game and have even the most basic things, such as kits, medical treatment, etc. taken care of so they can focus on the pitch. Liking them on Facebook will show that there is interest in these amazing women who play for the love of the game. Who knows? If enough people who read this take the few seconds to support them on social media, maybe we can all make the difference for some incredible athletes who are more than deserving.
So please follow my newest heroes. We can be their 12th man from wherever we are in the world. A couple of clicks could mean the world to them, and maybe with our support, we’ll actually get to watch televised matches someday. It’s not like we have a lot of transfer news or even news of a sale from AC Milan right now anyway. Give them a follow and show them that red and black love isn’t limited to a bunch of spoiled and sponsored, overpaid guys. Let’s show some love for our Milan Ladies, my heroes of calcio.
Follow on Twitter
Like on Facebook
Read more (in Italian) on their fabulous site Milan Ladies
All photos above courtesy of the Milan Ladies Twitter account
This post inspired by the music of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”
Our next match is a friendly
International Champions Cup
FC Bayern vs. AC Milan
Wednesday, July 27 • 9:00pm EDT