Italian footballers allowed to turn professional | Sports

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ROME (AP) — Female soccer players in Italy will finally be able to turn professional next season after years of amateur-only status that have limited their salaries.

The Italian Football Federation’s board approved new regulations on Tuesday that pave the way for a women’s professional era from July 1, in time for the next Serie A season.

“Today is a great day,” said federation president Gabriele Gravina. “We are the first federation in Italy to implement this change.”

Italian law had limited female players to amateur statusmeaning they couldn’t earn more than 30,000 euros ($32,000) a year before taxes.

In the initial vote, the women’s league unexpectedly voted against the change.

“There was a bit of resistance from Serie A, who wanted to offer a postponement but then we reached an agreement,” Gravina said.

Claudio Lotito, Lazio president and member of the federation’s board, added: “There was just a misunderstanding.”

Former Italian great and Azzurre coach Carolina Morace applauded the decision.

“Let’s hope this is not a finish line but rather a starting point,” Morace told the Lapresse news agency. “There are many examples in Europe and we are not the first. Barcelona’s 90,000 spectators to show that there is an interest in women’s football, even in Latin countries like Spain and Italy.

Italy’s surprise run to the quarter-finals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup also played a part in the change, Morace said.

Almost all of the big men’s clubs – Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Roma and Lazio – have teams playing in the growing Serie A women’s league.

“Now,” Morace added, “I hope other federations do the same.”

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