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FOOTBALL

Women’s final scrapped over ‘lesbian’ slur

The Italian women’s football cup final has been scrapped after a football chief allegedly described women players as “lesbians”.

Women's final scrapped over 'lesbian' slur
Italy's footballers Lisa Boattin and Carlotta Cartellide celebrate after defeating Venezuela in their Fifa U-17 Women's World Cup Costa Rica 2014. Photo: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP

Brescia had been due to play Tavagnacco in the final on Saturday but the game has been cancelled in protest over the comments, AIAC-AIC, the association representing women players and coaches, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The decision was the outcome of a meeting in Milan between players and coaches representing the women’s Serie A and B leagues.

Felice Belloli, the head of the national amateur league, last week sparked furore over the comments, which are alleged to have been made during a meeting in March with the board of the league’s women’s unit to discuss funding for women’s football.

“That’s enough, we can’t always talk about giving money to this handful of lesbians,” he allegedly said.

The comments were recorded in the minutes of the meeting, and sent to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), which is mulling whether to open an investigation.

Valeria Fedeli, the vice president of Italy’s Senate, took to Twitter to condemn the comments.

“Sexism and homophobia are a serious problem in football,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Luisa Rizzitelli, the president of Assist, the national association for female athletes, called on Belloli to immediately resign and for the football federation, as well as premier Matteo Renzi, to support the request.

Belloli has denied the allegations, telling Ansa last week that it needs to be proven that the comments came from him.

“After 30 years of inefficiency and inaction, we believe the time has come to give autonomy to women's football by leaving the national amateur league,” AIAC-AIC added.

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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