The Italian Almanac

soccer fan girls

Italian News - December 28

Italy has changed a lot since pop diva Rita Pavone famously lamented losing her man every Sunday to the "partita di pallone" (soccer game) in her 1962 hit. Now the face of the nation's soccer terraces is increasingly female. Serie A clubs report that, although overall ticket sales are down, the proportion of women at stadiums is on the up, and a recent Rome University study confirmed that female interest in football is booming.

A British market research agency, Initiative, has even forecast that as many as 40% of the Italian fans following the Azzurri at next summer's World Cup in Germany will be women. "In part it is a sign of emancipation, in part it is simply the appeal of the beautiful game," said Giulia Remollino, a psychotherapist who is also a regular at Rome's Olympic Stadium, where she roots for Lazio. "The social barriers that used to keep us away have gone, so it is easier to get into the sport. And there's nothing quite like the thrill of a good soccer match."

Italy's female supporters are also actively involved in the mass of soccer fan clubs, web-site forums, and radio and TV call-ins. Almost all Serie A teams have at least one women's supporter's club. AC Milan has several, one of which, Milan Club Stella, was founded back in 1973. The National Association of Women's Fan Clubs (ANFISSC) is 40 strong.

"We organize meetings, dinners, trips to away matches and charity events," said Linda Bianchini, president of AS Roma's female fan club, Club Donne Giallo Rosso. "And most importantly we try to encourage a non-violent culture in the stadiums and get as many people involved as we can, including children and the disabled." And as well as demolishing a long-held stereotype, some say the new trend is also good news for modern romance.