Italian women’s football and Serie A Femminile were dealt an unimaginable blow with Matchday 6 of the 2023/24 season still ongoing as Pomigliano astonishingly announced their decision to pull out of the league following their defeat to Sampdoria Women. The decision, should it be followed through on, will leave just nine teams in the Italian top flight and present all sorts of organisational problems.

In a statement released on Saturday, November 4, following their loss to Sampdoria, Pomigliano sent some strong words the way of the Divisione Calcio Femminile – the Women’s Football Division of the FIGC, the Italian Football Federation – while also remarkably stating that the referee’s decision to give Samp a penalty played its part in them reaching their decision to pull the women’s team. The penalty was converted by former Pomigliano player Taty to earn a 1-0 win for the Blucerchiate and to keep the Campania side second from bottom with just one point.

With Serie A Femminile having switched to full professionalism from the beginning of the 2022/23 season on, the first year since has been turbulent in Italian women’s football.

Sampdoria‘s own participation in the top flight was only confirmed at the beginning of September, two weeks before the 2023/24 campaign began, after having announced during the summer that they would be removing their women’s team.

Pomigliano statement: Pantere withdraw from Serie A Femminile mid-season

Pomigliano‘s full statement, as released on November 4, 2023, is as follows:

“Fighting against all kinds of opponent makes any attempt at a defence futile. The club, at the end of today’s meeting with its Board of Directors and in the presence of all of its members, with respect to its investments, in the nobility of the sporting project it has been carrying out for years, in the conviction and the principles of women’s football, says enough is enough!

“Fighting against invisible opponents becomes an unequal struggle that takes away all of your energy and desire to continue. But virtue of a league that, on the one hand demands compliance with deadlines and payment methods, and on the other hand fails to guarantee certain planning on the management of payments to be made, conditioning the internal planning of the club and forcing a club to operate without certain deadlines and without certain means.

“In addition to that is the referee’s management of the match against Sampdoria, where the referee and fourth official decided the outcome of the game in favour of the Ligurian side by implementing a one-sided approach from the beginning to the end of the game. There was excessive severity with our players, while leniency was shown to Sampdoria players in similar incidents. A second yellow card for a Sampdoria player became a caution for a member of our bench upon the ‘suggestion’ of a fourth official who in fact controlled the referee’s management of the game on the pitch. This is not to mention the made-up penalty kick, as is seen with the television pictures, with the visiting player not even touched in the slightest by our defender and that decision determining the final result.

“For all of this and other reasons, which have been communicated directly to the Women’s Football Division – Divisione Calcio Femminile – the club announces its withdrawal from the league with immediate effect.”

It, of course, remains to be seen what will happen next, and whether or not Pomigliano will be able to finalise their withdrawal from Serie A Femminile.