Guardiola or De Zerbi would struggle with Italy women, claims former coach Morace

By Sports Desk August 29, 2023

Pep Guardiola or Roberto De Zerbi would struggle to succeed with Italy's women's team, given the country's "embarrassing" attitude towards the women's game. 

That is the view of former Azzurre coach Carolina Morace, who has called for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to enact a "serious project" after their disappointing World Cup campaign.

Italy slumped to an early exit in Australia and New Zealand, finishing third in Group G following a dramatic loss to South Africa in their third match, with the Banyana Banyana advancing in second.

While Italy have long been a powerhouse in the men's game, winning four World Cups and two European Championships, the women's team have never clinched a major title.

They are yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals of a World Cup, failing to qualify for four of the last six editions, and have struggled at the Euros since finishing as runners-up during Morace's playing career in 1993 and 1997.

Asked about Italy's lack of success, Morace told Stats Perform: "People have always been curious. I remember my generation winning against Spain, against England, against France. 

"In fact, my generation has been runners-up in Europe twice. From there the other countries started. Our country didn't start with the projects because nobody believed in women's football. 

"Unfortunately, today there are still the same bosses as when I played and if they weren't in favour of women's football then, they still remain against it. 

"Even today, some Italian executives talk about a smaller field, bigger goals. These things are embarrassing because it means they have never seen a women's match. 

"Unfortunately in Italy, women's football is still seen as a waste of money rather than a resource. England is a country that has shown women's football can be a resource if you make the right projects and the right investments. You have to start planning." 

Reflecting on Italy's showing at the World Cup, Morace added: "I believe that ours was a failed World Cup in terms of the game.

"Surely even if Guardiola or De Zerbi were to coach the women's national team, the results would be the same. We need to broaden the base. The Federation must start a serious project. 

"The first problem is that you can't compete with 35,000 players against over 100,000 players in Spain, Germany, France, England. 

"It's impossible for me to criticise the players and the coach. In my opinion, it's not fair. What I'm sorry about in this World Cup is that no one has taken responsibility for what happened." 

Milena Bertolini left her role as Italy coach after the World Cup, and a successor is yet to be appointed ahead of September's Women's Nations League meetings with Switzerland and Sweden, the latter of whom took bronze in Australia and New Zealand.

Morace is concerned by the situation, particularly given suggestions the FIGC may appoint a male coach without experience in women's football. 

"In September we have some important matches in an important group, we have to play against Sweden and against Switzerland and we don't have a coach yet," Morace added.

"I have now heard that the Federation wants a man. Very good, there are some competent men who have been in our world for many years and who have done well, but I haven't heard the names of these coaches yet. 

"They have names of people who have never won a women's match, who don't know what women's football is. 

"We saw the Saudi Arabia men's coach who now coaches France [Herve Renard] and he couldn't possibly do what he thought he could, because it's not that simple when you don't know the environment."

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