A female footballer has been awarded more than £72,000 in maternity leave pay in a landmark victory in what she described as a “wake-up call” for football clubs.
Iceland international Sarah Bjork Gunnarsdottir, 32, took ex-employer Leon to one. FIFA The tribunal ruled that she was not paid her full salary after being away from work following the birth of her son Ragnar.
The French club have now been ordered to pay Gunnersdóttir a total of €82,094.82 – around £72,139 – plus 5% annual interest from September 10 last year until the balance is cleared.
This is the first order of its kind since FIFA’s maternity regulations came into effect in January 2021.
The midfielder, who currently plays for Juventus in Italy, tweeted: “This is not “just business”.
“This is about my human rights as an activist, as a woman and as a human being.”
“This story is bigger than me!” he added.
“This is a wake-up call to all clubs and a message to all players that they have rights and guarantees if they become pregnant or want to become pregnant during their careers!”
Gunnarsdottir asked to return home Iceland For the last stages of her pregnancy.
But he decided to take action after being refused his full salary, seeking help from the French players’ union, the Union Nationale des Footballers Professionals.
He later joined the world representative body, FIFPRO, which supports professional football players around the world.
FIFPRO said the decision against Leone, which was made public on Tuesday, sends a clear message that “strict enforcement of maternal rights is viable”.
In a statement shared on its social media channels, the organization added: “FIFPRO congratulates Sarah Bjork Gunnarsdottir on her successful claim against Lyon for the club’s failure to pay her full salary during her pregnancy.
“We are delighted to have helped him achieve the first decision of its kind since FIFA’s maternity regulations came into force in January 2021.
“It is vitally important for female footballers and the women’s game that these mandatory maternity regulations are enacted and enforced at national level.”
FIFPRO policy and strategic relations officer Alex Clune said the landmark decision “highlights the ongoing battles that women athletes endure to protect their fundamental rights as activists”.
“Progress has been made, but much remains to be done,” he added.
Gunnersdóttir has also received praise from fellow footballers, including Lions and former English football coach Anita Asante.
He tweeted: “Well done Sarah for being brave and standing up for yourself while holding your club to account!
“You have not only highlighted an important issue in football but, hopefully, have contributed to making the path easier for the next professional player who decides to start a family.”
Scottish and Arsenal Women’s star Jane Beattie credited her Icelandic counterpart for “talking about such an important topic for women at work”.
And Canadian footballer and double Olympic gold medallist, Desiree Scott, praised Gunnersdóttir for sharing her story to “inspire and inspire change”, adding that “there is still work to be done”.
Lyon has yet to comment on the decision.
FIFA’s rules, which came into force in January 2021, state: “A female player is entitled to maternity leave, defined as a paid absence of at least 14 weeks – from the birth The latter is paid equal to two-thirds of his contracted salary, during the contract period – with a minimum of eight weeks.”
Now became Home Secretary. First cabinet minister to go on maternity leave In March 2021.
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