Soccer star Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir wins historic maternity leave case

key points
  • Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir, who became pregnant in early 2021, has waited almost two years to make the decision.
  • The players’ union FIFPRO helped her get the decision, the first of its kind.
  • FIFA’s maternity regulations came into force in January 2021.
Iceland’s Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir has won her claim against former club Olympique Lyonnais after she was not paid her full salary during her pregnancy, players’ union FIFPRO said on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old turned to FIFPRO to lodge her complaint with FIFA and world football’s governing body ruled in August last year that the club must pay the full amount owed to Bjork within 45 days of notification of the decision.

FIFA said the club would face a transfer ban if they did not pay in full.

FIFPRO described the ruling in a statement as the first of its kind since FIFA’s maternity regulations came into force in January 2021.
“I was entitled to my full salary… These are part of my rights, and that cannot be disputed, not even by a club as big as Lyon,” wrote Gunnarsdottir, who became pregnant in early 2021. in The Players’ Tribune. web site

“This is not ‘just business’. This is about my rights as a worker, as a woman and as a human being,” added the midfielder.

Bjork, a two-time Champions League-winning midfielder, signed for Juventus following her departure from Lyon after playing at Euro 2022 with Iceland.
“They didn’t expect something like this, especially from a club as big as Lyon,” FIFPRO senior legal adviser Alexandra Gomez Bruinewoud, who worked on the case and was actively involved in defining the terms, told Reuters FIFA maternity regulations.
“We did not expect such a case when we pushed for these regulations, but we knew there would come a time when these protections would be used…

“The relevance is that now the players will not have to choose between playing and being a mother, they will be able to combine it, it would not be easy of course, but at least they have the legal basis where they have some protections.”

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