Why are Serie A players wearing red paint marks on their face?

Viewers of Serie A will notice players wearing red marks on their face, and there's an important message behind the gesture.

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Matchday 13 of the 2023/24 Serie A season was always going to catch the eye thanks to the Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter, and Atalanta’s trip to Napoli, all corresponding with Matchday 9 of Serie A Femminile, which sees standout fixtures of a Derby della Madonnina between Inter and AC Milan as well as AS Roma hosting Fiorentina. But a curious detail from the weekend’s action will leave anybody tuning in to get their fix of Italian football noticing that every single male player will take to the pitch with a red mark on their face.

At first glance, the mark might appear to be a drop of blood that has gone unnoticed, but that’s not the case. The red marks are deliberate, they are worn every single season by Serie A players, and there’s an important reason behind them.

Why do Serie A players put red marks on their face?

Lazio’s Mattia Zaccagni and Salernitana’s Pasquale Mazzocchi with red marks on their faces. [@OfficialSSLazio]

For a number of seasons now, Serie A players have worn red marks on their cheeks in support of a campaign raising awareness of and challenging domestic violence against women. The aim is also to spread awareness of an anti-stalking and anti-abuse support hotline. 

The name of the campaign is Un Rosso Alla Violenza – a red card to violence – and it is something that Lega Serie A have been in support of for a number of years. 

It is an important part of every season, but it is particularly prevalent right now as Italy has been shocked by the murder of Giulia Cecchettin, allegedly at the hands of a possessive ex-partner. Her brutal murder has reignited Italy’s public debate on violence towards women.

What is the red mark players in Serie A put on their face? 

The red mark, used to challenge domestic violence against women and in support of the Un Rosso Alla Violenza campaign, is put on the faces of layers, coaching staff, and matchday officials.

It is done by using red lipstick on the cheek of individuals involved. 

Each year, male Serie A players and clubs are encouraged to post photos to their social media channels – often with female partners – wearing the red mark on their cheeks in an attempt to raise awareness of the issue.

Serie A Femminile players raise awareness 

Back in November 2022, Serie A Femminile continued as normal as the men’s game paused for their World Cup. 

As the teams lined up on the pitch, the fourth official held up the substitutes’ board to display the number 1522 – a phone number available for victims of violence against women to call.

Then, the FIGC – the Italian Football Federation – reported figures that 44.1% of women had, in the previous year, suffered physical or sexual violence, and by November 2022 there had already been 104 cases of femicide in Italy. 

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