Soccer star Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir wins landmark maternity leave

Important points
  • Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir, who became pregnant in early 2021, has been waiting for the decision for almost two years.
  • Players’ union FIFPRO helped them obtain the decision, the first of its kind.
  • The FIFA Maternity Regulations came into force in January 2021.
Iceland’s Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir has won her lawsuit against former club Olympique Lyonnais after not being paid her full salary during her pregnancy, players’ union FIFPRO said on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old approached FIFPRO to lodge her complaint with FIFA, and global football’s governing body ruled in August last year that club Björk must pay the full amount owed within 45 days of the announcement of the decision.

FIFA said the club faces a transfer ban if they don’t pay in full.

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

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

Björk, a two-time Champions League-winning midfielder, signed for Juventus after departing from Lyon after playing with Iceland at Euro 2022.
“You didn’t expect something like this, especially from a club as big as Lyon,” Alexandra Gomez Bruinewoud, Senior Legal Counsel at FIFPRO, who worked on the case and was actively involved in defining FIFA’s maternity rules, told Reuters.
“We didn’t anticipate such an event when we pushed for these regulations, but we knew there would come a time when these safeguards would come into play…

“The relevance is that now players don’t have to choose between gaming and being a mother, they can combine it, obviously it wouldn’t be easy, but at least they have the legal basis where they have some protection. “

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