“I know this story might annoy some powerful people in the world of football, but I have to tell the truth,” writes Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir. The Icelandic footballer, former player of Olympique Lyonnais, has indeed thrown a stone in the mare by revealing Tuesday January 17 that the club had lowered her salary during her pregnancy. A speech that clashes, while OL wants to be at the forefront of women’s football.
In a column published on the site “the Player’s Tribune”, Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir returns to the image of her former club, and remembers: “I will never forget the feeling of winning a Champions League. To score in the final and win this title with Lyon was one of the moments of my career of which I am most proud. “And then I got pregnant,” she continues.
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The Icelandic returns to her joy at this surprise pregnancy, discovered in March 2021, but also to her apprehension: in women’s football in Europe, she recalls, getting pregnant when you are professional is uncommon. She claims to have agreed with management to return to Iceland until she gives birth.
“I feel confused, stressed and betrayed”
But the player notices that a first salary does not fall, then a second. She receives an apology from Vincent Ponsot, general manager of OL football. But in the third month, the club claims to comply with French law. He believes that, since the midfielder did not exercise any professional activity after she decided to return to Iceland to follow her pregnancy, he could adjust his salary as in a case of long-term work stoppage. He thus paid him only 27,000 euros were paid out of the 109,000 so.
However, three months before the player’s pregnancy, Fifa established new rules on the question of maternity for professional players, providing that they are fully paid between the announcement of the pregnancy and the start of maternity leave. , such as the RMC callback.
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Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir receives help from players’ associations to bring the case before Fifa. She reports in her column the words of Vincent Ponsot at that time: “If Sara goes ahead of Fifa with that, she has no future in Lyon. »
“It should have been the happiest moment of my life. All I wanted was to enjoy my pregnancy, and work like crazy to come back and help the team and the club. But instead, I feel confused, stressed and betrayed. »
After the birth of her son Ragnar, Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir returned to OL in January 2022 but reported the lack of club support she received there. She eventually left the club to join Juventus Turin the following July at the end of her contract.
The club sum to pay 82,000 euros to the player
The dispute resolution chamber of the Fifa court ruled in favor of the player in May 2022, and decided that OL should pay her around 82,000 euros plus interest.
“Fifa is now criticizing us for not having offered another job to Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir during her sick leave and then her maternity leave, while at the same time the law forbids us to do so in France and the player had expressly asked us to be able to return to live in Iceland, which we accepted”, reacted OL in a press release on Tuesday.
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The club with also forward the situation of its player Amek Majri, who became last July the first French international in activity after having had a child. On the day of the publication of the Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir column, OL also published an interview with the player on their social networks, discussing her return to the field with the club after her pregnancy.
At the end of last year, she was able to carry out travel tests in the Champions League, during which she was accompanied by her baby and her nanny to evaluate this operation, explains RMC. A device that would also have been offered to Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir but that the latter would have refused, according to the radio.
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Coach Sonia Bompastor, appointed at the end of April 2021, assures RMC that “What we put in place for Amel, we also proposed to Sara. We had shown that we wanted to have things evaluated and to take into account the fact that she was a mother beyond being athletic ”.
She says she feels that when Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir returns, “At the level of the technical staff, we had made sure to put in place several things to allow her to feel fulfilled as an athlete and a mother”, although she recognizes that “Maybe everything was not perfect because it was also new for the club”.
The story of the Icelandic player has in any case reacted to the star American player Megan Rapinoe, herself a player in the United States of the franchise team OL Reign: “ It’s completely shameful on the part of OL. You all like to say how much you support women, but the math is wrong. I implore you to be the club that ALWAYS supports women, not the club that once did. »