the champion of European women’s football did not pay the full salary to a pregnant woman

ParisThey are still a minority but more and more footballers decide to become mothers while they are professional players. Clubs, although obliged by law, do not always respect their rights. This is what happened to Icelander Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir, until last summer a player for the current European women’s soccer champion, Olympique Lyonnais. Björk has denounced in a post published this week a The Players’ Tribune the “shameful” behavior she received at the French club, both while she was pregnant and when she returned to the pitch. Gunnarsdottir had her son in November 2021 and was the first active OL player to become a mother.

“I know this story may upset some powerful people in the world of football. This other side of the game is not supposed to be talked about, but I have to tell the truth,” writes 32-year-old Björk. The Icelandic player made public, six months after leaving the club and signing for Juventus, that OL only paid her a third of her salary while she was pregnant and could not play. Björk notified the French club of her pregnancy and agreed to return to Iceland while she was unable to play, but the player then found herself not being paid her full salary by the club.

During the months she was pregnant, Sara Björk only received 27,000 euros of the 109,000 she should have received. “I didn’t expect it, especially from a club like this,” he regrets. A FIFA court last year condemned Olympique Lyonnais to pay 82,000 euros plus interest to the player in terms of the salary she stopped receiving during her pregnancy, according to the Icelander.

Threats from the club

Björk also explains that OL’s director general of football, Vincent Ponsot, even threatened to kick her out if she reported it to FIFA: “I was in shock and very hurt. How could it be that a club like could the OL act in this way?”, he asks. But the Icelander ended up going to FIFA and has now made public everything that happened. “It’s about my rights as a worker, as a woman and as a human being,” the player justified on Twitter.

When he returned to training just over two months after having little Ragnar, the coach spoke of his desire to manage his return well: “It’s a big news for us, but I’ve been very clear about this issue with the club: we must be exemplary”, affirmed Sonia Bompastor. The club ignored her. Björk recounts the tense meeting she had with Olympique president Jean-Michel Aulas on the first day she set foot in the club after becoming a mother, with her baby in her arms. “It was the first time he saw me after my leave. He didn’t greet me or even look at the baby,” says the player. A few months after this episode, his departure from the club to Juventus was confirmed.


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