Olympique Lyon is one of the most successful clubs in football, and the French club is considered a pioneer in the women’s field. Lyon has won the Champions League eight times, most recently six months ago, and can also boast countless national titles. This is where the best players in the world come together. The two German internationals Sara Däbritz and Dzsenifer Marozsán are also under contract with Olympique.The daily mirror app The latest news, background information and analyzes straight to your smartphone. Plus the digital newspaper. Download here for free.
So you would expect such a club to be fair and courteous to its players. Offering you the best care on and off the pitch. Lyon does the same, club president Jean-Michel Aulas is even proud to be able to offer the footballers fair conditions. Unless you get pregnant during your active career. As was the case with Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, as announced in April 2021.
Gunnarsdóttir, who finally had her child in October 2021, went public with her story on Wednesday evening by publishing an emotional text on the US Internet platform “The players tribune”.
There she writes of happy reactions after telling everyone in charge in Lyon about her pregnancy. She was also assured of any support and was allowed to spend the time of her pregnancy in her home country Iceland.
But at some point she was then denied her salary on the grounds of the club director, Vincent Ponsot, that French law provides for it. However, in 2020 Fifa decided on a new maternity leave regulation for active players, in which the players’ union FIFPRO was also involved, and which came into force in January 2021. According to this, clubs must pay a pregnant player over 14 weeks at least two-thirds of her salary.
Lyon have to pay Gunnarsdóttir’s salary
However, Olympique Lyon simply did not comply and did not consider it necessary to notify the player or inquire about her in any other way. “I want to make sure no one ever has to go through what I went through again. And I want Lyon to know that’s not okay,” writes Gunnarsdóttir.
After months of litigation, which Gunnarsdóttir entered into despite a threat from Lyon, FIFPRO finally obtained the verdict in May 2021 in favor of the Icelandic woman. Lyon had to pay the player the entire salary, at least 82,094.82 euros.
Shortly thereafter, Lyon won the Champions League, with Gunnarsdóttir there too, despite being told by the club that she wasn’t good enough anymore and that having a child was a mistake, she says. Lyon ultimately did not extend the former regular’s contract, which expired in the summer, and she switched to Juventus Turin after the European Championship, where she started three games for Iceland.
I want to make sure no one ever has to go through what I went through again.
Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir
Even if Gunnarsdóttir, who was also under contract with VfL Wolfsburg for several years, was right, there is still a lot to be done. In addition to the need for a club like Lyon to have an offer to inform players about their rights, especially in the event of a pregnancy, and which did not even begin to comply, support should also have come from another level.
Chelsea FC and Melanie Leupolz are leading the way
Instead, the player was told that her career at Lyon was over and it was not even considered that she could return to her old level in sport. After all, she now has a child who disrupts her concentration and keeps her from playing football.
The German national player Melanie Leupolz, for example, announced her pregnancy in March at the beginning of the year together with her club, Chelsea FC, and gave birth in October. But instead of pressuring them to return as soon as possible, as the players are already doing themselves, the English club renewed their contract a week ago. This is exactly how the support of a club should look like on a professional level. Lyon did just the opposite.Free testing: Read the daily mirror unlimited with a subscription. Everything from the world and the cosmopolitan city.
What seems even more important, apart from the financial aspect, is that clubs understand that you can be a competitive athlete again after pregnancy, as has already been demonstrated in many other sports. There is still a long way to go in football, even if clubs like Chelsea give hope. In the meantime, the DFB has also started tackling the issue, as national goalkeeper and mother of two Almuth Schult explains in the documentary “Born for this”. The DFB subsidized her childcare and VfL Wolfsburg was also open to the issue.Protection instead of punishment The regulation on maternity leave in equestrian sport misses its target A strange regulation of the world tennis association Pregnancy is not an injury! World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria Almuth Schult is back in goal for the national team
The fact that Gunnarsdóttir went public with her case now seems all the more important so that the topic continues to gain attention and players like herself two years ago are not faced with the problem of not knowing their rights. Because, as the Icelandic woman rightly points out: “This isn’t just about business, it’s about my rights as an employee, as a woman and as a person.”