Iceland captain Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir reveals maternity pay victory in landmark ruling against Olympique Lyonnais

Iceland captain Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir on Tuesday revealed details of a maternity pay victory in a landmark ruling against her former club, Olympique Lyonnais.

In a first-person account published in The Player’s Tribune, Gunnarsdóttir detailed publicly for the first time how she had taken Olympique Lyonnais to the FIFA Tribunal and won after the club failed to pay her salary after she announced her pregnancy in 2021.

“This story is bigger than me! It’s a wakeup call for all clubs and it’s a message to all players that if they get pregnant or want to get pregnant during their career they have their rights and guarantees,” Gunnarsdóttir wrote on Twitter.

In May 2022, the FIFA Tribunal ruled in Gunnarsdóttir’s favor, ordering Lyon to pay $88,867 (€82,094.80) as outstanding remuneration, plus 5% interest.

FIFPRO — the world representative body for footballers, which assisted Gunnarsdóttir in her case — called this “the first ruling of its kind since FIFA’s maternity regulations came into force in January 2021,” in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday.

“It is extremely important for women footballers and the women’s game that these mandatory maternity regulations are both implemented and enforced at national level,” FIFPRO added.

US star Megan Rapinoe tweeted: “This is utterly disgraceful from OL, OL Féminin. The culture at OL in France has a LONG way to go. Y’all love to talk about how much you support women, but this math is not mathing. I implore you to be the club that is ALWAYS supporting women, not the club that once did.”

“We have done everything possible to support Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir during her maternity period and her return to the highest level,” Olympique Lyonnais said in a statement to CNN.

“We have always respected French law, which we have sometimes found to be too restrictive on these issues. We have always campaigned for greater protection for players in these areas,” the club added.

“FIFA is now criticising us for not having offered Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir another job 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 had accepted,” the French club continued.

“We are proud to have had Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir in the Olympique Lyonnais squad. We parted ways for purely sporting reasons,” the eight-time Women’s Champion League-winning club said.

Gunnarsdóttir left Olympique Lyonnais in 2022 and joined Italian side Juventus in July.

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