Not even Italy’s first female soccer coach is immune from sexist interview questions
Her nickname is literally “The Scorpion” and she’s still treated like a weakling
Patrizia Panico, Italian footballer nicknamed “The Scorpion” for her skills on the field, has been appointed as the first woman in all of Italian football history to coach a men’s team on a national level.
Panico, who’s won more awards than an entire American suburb community (including their participation trophies), is a seasoned veteran of the sport. She played in Italy’s 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013 UEFA Woman’s Championship while also playing at the 1999 FIFA Woman’s World Cup.
In an interview with BBC News reporter Nick Marsh, Panico answered all of his questions, including the cliche “woman in a man’s world” ones.
When asked if she felt fear after being offered the job after the team lost in a match against Germany, Panico responded with, “When I heard about the match, and the appointment, I didn’t feel any fear. I was just really happy that my first game was going to be against Germany. I wanted my first game to be against a really strong team like them.”
One goal for Panico and women everywhere.
Marsh proceeds to call Italian football a man’s game. Asking Panico if she was surprised, as a woman, to be offered this opportunity.
“Well, yes, but it was a pleasant surprise. You see, in Italy, the way women are viewed in certain professions, but especially in football, they’ve always been considered as subordinates.”
“So this position that I’ve been given represents not just one, but many steps forward for women in football.”
Second goal goes to Panico and women everywhere.
After Marsh praises Panico as one of the most successful FEMALE Italian football players, even though she’s won over 185 caps for Italy, he questions the reactions of her players.
“No look, being completely honest, the players have been extremely professional, extremely focused without even a hint of prejudice. Really what counts in football is your competence.”
“Are you a competent manager? Are you passionate about things? Are you loyal to your team? If you are, then you’ll be fine as a manager.”
“Besides, I think young players aren’t yet conditioned to think in a certain way, and it’s nice. So you realize, even in Italy, things are changing a lot in terms of the mentality.”
Schooling him on what it means to be a manager should be more than one point, right?
To finish off the interview, Marsh asks Panico what her players call her since it’s apparently Italian football tradition for players to call their manager, “mister” in an English accent.
“Well, to be honest, I don’t think that calling your manager ‘mister’ is sexist. It’s simply that there aren’t any other precedents, you see. There’s no alternative vocabulary because no women are managers. So we’ve always used the word, ‘mister’. There’s nothing disparaging about it when the lads call me, ‘mister’. It would be hard for them to call me by another name.”
“Maybe as the years go by and we get more women managers, our football vocabulary will evolve and players will call their women managers, ‘miss’.”
Marsh adds that Panico has broken the “grass ceiling”, and I’ve never given an article so much shade.
Patrizia Panico may be a striker on the field, but swerving past all of the cliche sexist interview questions with the skill that she did, deserves equal recognition.