Italy’s public service broadcaster Rai has strengthened its relationship with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), extending its partnership with the governing body until the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
As part of the agreement, friendly matches involving the Italian women’s team, youth team and senior team will continue to be broadcast on the platform.
Rai CEO Fabrizio Salini praised the ‘lasting bond’ between the pair, adding: “In these 90 years the story of the National Team has been linked with that of Rai through the values of loyalty and inclusion. The blue shirt of the National Team is also the shirt of Rai. We are really pleased and proud to have brought the women’s National Team to Rai 1, it was a natural and obligatory choice. This choice is the result of our reasoning: the women’s National Team deserved this stage. We have defeated the prejudices.”
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina underlined: “Rai is the home of the national teams. Today we are in our home. I must thank Rai and its staff, who follow us on every trip. We represent an important duo which has been able to been able to narrate the history, the periods of changes, even the disappointments of our country, but always with the strength of enthusiasm. And the numbers show it.”
He added: “When it comes to our sport, there’s not just a sporting aspect, there’s also a need to highlight the social dimension. This has been done successfully: we’ve been able to share new stories while looking at the social side of things. I need to thank Rai for how much it’s invested in women’s football, a phenomenon that has come about in no time at all.”
Following the heartbreak of Russia 2018, which saw Italy miss out on their first World Cup since 1958, the Azzurri has enjoyed a strong period already booking a place at the European Championships in 2020. The extension also aims to build on the continued and substantial growth of engagement within women’s football in Italy.
Highlighting how the public service broadcaster is integral to the consumption of football in Italy, national team manager, Roberto Mancini added: “Rai was very much part of my youth and I believe that this pairing is perfect. I’m very happy, I hope the agreement continues for many years. It’s pleasing that the Italian public and fans are really taking to the team, we’re improving a lot. We want as many people to tune in as the amount that followed Italy vs. Argentina in 1990, when I was on the bench. That’d mean that we’d done really well.”
Rai has long had a strong presence in Italian football, with this extension deepening a partnership that was first formed as early as 1928.
Insider Insight: Whilst international football will never match the anticipation of club football, continuing to broadcast the national team on public service television not only elevates the exposure of games, but it also adds an extra layer of tradition and sentiment to the fixtures.