On Saturday afternoon, Milan’s Arena Civica, one of the city’s oldest sports facilities and the oldest football stadium in Italy among those currently in use, once again hosted a derby between Inter and Milan 77 years after the last one, played on July 21, 1946. The first twenty-three derbies played in the Parco Sempione stadium were men’s: that of Saturday was more feminine, given that from now on the Arena will be the stadium of Inter women’s team, as was the case between 1930 and 1947 for the men’s team.
Inter’s opening match went well: they won 1-0 and thus, after the last defeat against Juventus, they returned close to third place in the standings, which from this year stands will qualify for the Champions League. With the Scudetto likely still being contested by Roma and Juventus, the two strongest teams in the championship by far, third place is the minimum target for teams immediately behind like Inter, Fiorentina or Milan, if it manages to resolve the difficulties he is having (less than a week ago, he fired his coach).
Inter’s return to the Civica Arena is important news for the women’s movement, whose teams need visibility to get closer to an audience which, as already observed in other countries, can reach significant figures and therefore help to bring the entire system to life. In Italy, top-level women’s football has only become professional since last season, and several teams are seeking opportunities to grow their fan base.
A few years ago, Inter played its home matches in Sedriano, a small town located about twenty kilometers from Milan. Between 2018 and 2019, during the promotion season from Serie B to Serie A, he moved to one of Inter’s sports centers, the one between Niguarda and Bresso. Even then, the better accessibility of the new venue led to an increase in spectator numbers, which then continued with the move to the Breda stadium in Sesto San Giovanni, just outside Milan, where Inter became the One of the highest ranked teams in Serie A.
With the move to the Arena Civica, Inter will now try to definitively consolidate the activities and presence of its women’s team: a bit like Roma did recently, who won their first Scudetto of the year during of which it confirmed itself as the most followed women’s team. in Italy playing at Tre Fontane, in the EUR district. For the city of Milan, there is no facility more accessible and within everyone’s reach than the Arena Civica, located just over a kilometer as the crow flies from the Duomo.
It is precisely for these reasons, and to celebrate the return to the old stadium, that Saturday’s derby was free entry and a good part of the approximately 5,000 seats were occupied, even by those walking around the Parco Sempione and had not registered as a priority. on the online page made available by Inter.
The concession of the Arena to Inter was possible thanks to an agreement with the municipality of Milan, which will thus try to enhance a stadium already used for training and athletics competitions and where, on May 15, 1910, the men’s national football team played the first match in its history. To adapt the installation to new uses, the municipality renovated it, allocating nearly 4 million euros for interventions which concerned the athletics track, the changing rooms, the lawn and the stands.
The building was designed by the architect Luigi Canonica and inaugurated in 1807 in the presence of Napoleon Bonaparte, proclaimed king of Italy two years earlier. Before it began to permanently host modern sports, the Arena was used for spectacles reminiscent of Roman imperial tradition. It was also filled with water to host naval battles, and between the 19th and 20th centuries it was home to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Italy, known at the time as “the greatest show on earth.”
After the Second World War, it was gradually abandoned in favor of football: only recently have semi-amateur men’s teams like Brera and Alcione returned to play there.