It's official: Fiorentina Women's FC is up and running. The Viola now boast the first Italian women's club to be directly attached to and supervised by a Serie A team, and club director Sandro Menucci seems quite tickled about it. Following in the footsteps of successful women's leagues in Germany, France, and Scandinavia, this paradigm shift could help Italy catch up to its neighbors at both club and national level.
The presser began with Menucci introducing the project. He explained that the Della Valles had bought the female version of Fiorentina, who were affiliated with but not owned by Fiorentina, after a lengthy round of negotiations with the FIGC; Mencucci particularly emphasized Andrea Della Valle's enthusiasm (because ADV is noted for his reserve) for this new endeavor.
The women's team mirrored the men's side with a fourth-placed finish last season in the female division; with the resources of a big club, a higher finish is certainly expected and attainable in the domestic league, where most women's teams are semi-professional at best in terms of funding.
Menucci stated that the purpose of this new project was two-fold: to win the women's league, but also to give more female players in Italy a chance to play at the highest level. He added that all the highest level men's clubs (Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG) have similar co-ed set-ups, and that such an inclusive approach is crucial to build a strong mentality at the club.
Menucci then fielded some questions about some of the expectations for the new team. The team will retreat to San Piero e Sieve this week, in preparation for the beginning of the season in October. While there isn't yet an official shirt sponsor (a recurring club theme), management is weighing several options. The goal for the upcoming season, Mencucci added, is to win, score goals, and set a precedent for the rest of the country. He also said that there will be a women's youth team next season.
On the financial side, Fiorentina hopes for and expects contributions from the FIGC, but at this point, all the money for the project is coming from the ownership. When asked about the fans, he responded, "The Florentines, when excited by new things, do not ever abandon them." He finished by introducing the new coach of Fiorentina Women's FC: Sauro Fattori.
Sauro Fattori is a former Viola player. He came up through the youth ranks and scored 3 goals in the 1980 season before embarking on a long career through the lower leagues. He returned to the Fiorentina fold as a coach in 2012, and now has an opportunity to build a juggernaut. He expressed his delight at working with the legendary Patrizia Panico (duh), but sounded most excited about the impact this project could have on the women's game as a whole, saying, "It's normal to want to win, but the club's real objective is to grow the women's game."
Menucci fielded a few questions about the men's team as well at the end of the press conference. He soothed some fan fears with assurances that this increased investment in the women's game will not take anything away from operations on the men's side, as the funds come from different sources.
The front office man added that, while he hadn't stated any specific goals for Sousa to achieve, his non-verbal cues have hinted to the new coach that he'd like to see a strong position in the final table; he said this by way of a cryptic "my eyes may have spoken by themselves." He added that this squad reminded him of the 2002 club's fighting spirit, which is either nice - that was a fighting squad, alright - or really bad - it was also a Serie C2 squad - depending on your perspective.
Your tl;dr takeaway from all this is that Fiorentina is really really cool for being the first Italian club to start a women's team in parallel to the men's team. But we all knew that Fiorentina was really really cool anyways, so it may not even qualify as news.