Olympique Lyonnais withdrew the wages of their pregnant players and it was cancelled. The FIFA ruling has consequences – also for Switzerland.
The case made headlines all over the world: French football club Olympique Lyonnais had to pay around 83,000 francs for its player, Sarah Bjork-Johnarsdottir. wages that the footballer no longer earned after pregnancy and therefore no longer played for her club. FIFA spoke a word of force in this matter. But on what basis did FIFA decide – and how would such a case work in Switzerland?
There is a universally binding legal protection for pregnant footballers for only two years. A pregnant professional player is now entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. Clubs are also now obligated to reintegrate players into football operations after childbirth and to ensure appropriate medical care. And: Under no circumstances may a player be sent off due to pregnancy.
These new rules are also causing changes in Switzerland, says Lucien Valoni, president of the Swiss Footballers’ Union, which represents women’s professional soccer in Switzerland. “Players can refer to Swiss law in addition to these FIFA rules. Depending on what is cheaper at the moment, they can insist on applying.”
SFV does not involve changes to the underlying contract
For example, maternity leave is already recognized by Swiss law – but only after childbirth. According to FIFA rules, a player can take part in paid leave even before giving birth. These changes are mandatory for all clubs. However, the Swiss Football Association SFV did not want to include them in the basic contract.
SFV writes on request: “Pregnancy and maternity issues in Switzerland are regulated in detail. Some laws even exceed FIFA’s minimum requirements. That is why we have deliberately refrained from adding or adapting our regulations.”
Player union problem
SFV’s remarks upset Fallone. “We have asked SFV several times to include the changes in the underlying contract. I have pointed this gap out to SFV several times during our meetings. So far, I have inexplicably run into the granite.”
The fact that SFV does not want to include the new rules in the basic contract also causes confusion because the FIFA rules are binding in any case. Lucien Vallone sees it this way, who still wants changes to be included in the basic contract for the sake of transparency and legal certainty. SFV itself writes: “It is established in our laws that FIFA’s regulations and decisions are binding on the SFV itself and the clubs.”
In other words, if a professional soccer player gets pregnant, she can refer to FIFA regulations. But if there is nothing in the contract about that, does the footballer know that too? The acid test for the FIFA report is still pending. Lucien Valoni is not yet aware of any professional player who has become pregnant and has requested paid maternity leave. But this may only be a matter of time.
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