The UEFA Woman Champions League final in Reggio Emilia was hailed as a chance to reinvigorate the female game in Italy at an event in the city to mark 100 days to go.
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The UEFA Woman Champions League trophy has been handed over to the Italian city of Reggio Emilia with 100 days to go until the final and tickets set to go on sale.
Ahead of the final on 26 May, the launch event was held at the city's Sala del Tricolore ('Room of the Tricolour'). It was here, in 1769, that a conference was held involving delegates from Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Ferrara, who, after proclaiming the Cispadane Republic, adopted the green, white and red flag now used by Italy.
Mayor of Reggio Emilia, Luca Vecchi, opened today's press conference expressing his pride at hosting the women final, the first to be played in Italy, two days before Milan stages the UEFA Champions League decider.
Carlo Tavecchio, president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), then took the stage in front of a host of dignitaries. They included respective men's and women's national coaches Antonio Conte and Antonio Cabrini, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup final referee Nicola Rizzoli.
"We thank UEFA for giving Italy the possibility to host these two finals," said Tavecchio who stressed the importance of this final for women's football in Italy. "There are only 20,000 registered women players in Italy, 1.2 million men. It's not only a sporting problem, it's our society. We are investing a lot to change this philosophy and we believe that there are huge margins for improvement."
Karen Espelund, member of the UEFA Executive Committee and chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee, appreciated Tavecchio's words. "I'm very happy to be here on behalf of UEFA," she said.
"The legacy of this final can be very important for Italy. There is room for many more girls to play football in this country, we must give more children the possibility. I remember that Italy was one of the leading countries in the 1970s. I'm happy to hear that there are strong plans to the develop women's football both at grassroots and senior level."
Three Italian internationals, Patrizia Panico, Melania Gabbiadini and Alessia Tuttino, were rewarded by UEFA for having played more than 100 games in the Azzurre shirt.
"I'm very thankful for the role I have been given for this final," said Panico, who will be ambassador for the event. "This is a great opportunity for Italy to give visibility to women's football because this is the biggest club competition in the world."
Panico, who has scored 110 goals in 204 games for Italy, added: "I'm absolutely convinced that women football is the incarnation of many important UEFA values like solidarity and passion. We can set an example for the important fight against issues like racism and other problem.
I hope that this final will show that women's football is a model to be emulated by men, not the other way around as it has often been in the past."