The story of Disney that led to the dual role of PSG

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March 6, 2021

  • Arianna Criscione is Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper

  • The former Italy international is also one of the club’s sponsorship officials.

  • She talks to us about her double role and the “Disney story” that led to it.

Millions of us grow up with the dream of playing for a world famous club. As we mature and those ambitions fade for all but the lucky few, there may be hope for an off-court role in the game.

The idea that it would be possible to do both, simultaneously combining these dream jobs, would seem like a fantasy. However, Arianna Criscione – guardian of Paris Saint-Germain and responsible for sponsors – made it her reality.

Criscione is 36 years old and upon arriving in France, the California goalkeeper had already won caps with Italy, Serie A titles with Torres and experienced football in Sweden and the Netherlands. But two years ago, she had stopped playing and was heading for retirement when a chance meeting with Bruno Cheyrou, then sports director of the PSG women’s team, changed the course of her life.

As she explained: “I was working as a project manager at the European Women’s Freestyle Championships and somehow – don’t ask me how – I ended up with a ticket. first class return. When I got on the plane I noticed that Bruno, whom I did not know at the time, had papers from the Association of European Clubs next to him, so I started chatting with him .

“I had just done my masters at the FBA (Football Business Academy) and he was asking me everything I had learned, what I thought about the future direction of women’s football and when we landed he told me looked and asked if I wanted to keep playing. I told him I would love to, but I had studied and worked so hard to start making the transition from gaming to business. asked if there was a way to combine the two and luckily for me he loved the idea.

“I call it my Disney story. I grew up with the Disney movies, and for me this whole situation with Bruno was the kind of thing you could imagine watching on TV, thinking, “I love that, but that kind of thing doesn’t. ‘never happens in real life’. It really did happen though, and it happened to me.

The result of being able to forge a future off the pitch while enjoying the fall of her playing career with one of the best teams in the world is a fairy tale in itself. But Criscione, who plans to retire at the end of the current season, aims to add one final fulfillment that would, once again, be Disney-esque.

“I would love to win the Champions League and honestly I think we can,” she said. “We currently have the best women’s football team as far as I’m concerned and with the season going (with PSG in the UWCL round of 16 and Lyon leading the French top flight) we should definitely finish with a trophy or two.

Regardless of the end of the campaign, it seems highly unlikely that Criscione will be tempted to extend her playing career. Even the inspiring and record-breaking example of his team-mate Formiga – 43 years old this week and still going strong – is not enough to raise doubts.

“It’s amazing and impressive to see what Formiga can still do, but it’s a real physical anomaly. And I’m just not, ”Criscione admitted frankly. “I stop on my terms, and I’m ready. I have had a few injuries, my body is tired and while I will still be training for fun it will be good not to need train every day.

“In addition, it is not always easy to combine the two roles. We don’t have a set training schedule with the team – it changes week to week, often short term – so scheduling business meetings is very difficult.

“And even though I retire, I’m not saying goodbye to football. I will always be very involved – just from a different point of view. I will be more passionate than ever about the development of women’s football, and I feel that I can make a real contribution to that off the pitch.

Criscione also won the right to cut a dizzying and sometimes exhausting list of commitments. After all, in addition to her dual job at PSG, she also participates in Harvard University’s “Crossover to Business” program for professional athletes and, as of this week, has started studying for the. FIFA Diploma in Club Management.

Where it will lead, only time will tell. “I stopped making five or ten year plans because my life never turns out as planned – often in the right way,” she said with a laugh. But whatever her professional fate, Criscione is passionate about showing footballers that the paths to a post-player role in the game don’t start and end with becoming a coach.

“This is something that I really want to get the word out about,” she said. “In my generation, everyone in America finished their education before trying to go pro, and you have all these amazing women who are highly educated and qualified for these top roles, but also know the game. thoroughly. And I know from experience how valuable it is.

“I have had teammates with degrees in accounting, law, math, and all of these skills have their place in modern football clubs, associations and stakeholders. Yet I don’t see enough women in these kinds of roles. Part of solving this problem is that we have to apply in larger numbers whenever these football positions arise. Once we start doing this and receive the opportunities we deserve, I’m sure you’ll see even more of what women can bring to the game. ”

Criscione certainly set the example. And while we may not see her stop her shots and claim crosses any longer, this PSG goalkeeper appears to be making a positive impact on her sport for years and decades to come.

Arianna Criscione.

This article is part of our Women’s Football and Women in Football series to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021. Find out more about FIFA’s women’s football development strategy and programs, and read other items like this, Click here.

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