When we talk about women’s football, Olympique Lyonnais is immediately cited as the world reference. With its 15 French championship titles and their 8 Champions Leagues, the Fenottes are quite simply the most successful team in the history of the French championship and on the continental scene. However, it seems that all is not so rosy behind the scenes. Yesterday, Icelandic player Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir indeed caught the attention of the media by dropping a bombshell. In an interview given to The Players’ Tribune, the midfielder returned to one of the essential subjects of women’s football: the management of players who have become pregnant. In other words: the Icelander accuses OL of not having paid her her full salary during her pregnancy in 2021.
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“I know this story may irritate some influential people in the world of football, but I have to tell the truth. 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 OK. » Thus, the Rhone management would have paid him only €27,000 out of the €109,000 due. Since then, FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber ruled on the case in May 2022 and OL were ordered to pay around €82,000 to the player as well as interest. But for the one who evolves today at Juventus, the way of doing things from the Lyon management, and in particular from Vincent Ponsot, does not pass. “ From the first month, I did not receive my salary. All that was paid out was just a small percentage of Social Security. Then I didn’t get paid for the next two months. I called Dietmar, my agent, and he wrote to Vincent (Ponsot), the club manager. There was no response. When Vincent Ponsot finally responded, he apologized for two of the months I missed. And told me I would be paid for these. But for the third month, he talked about French law. Which meant they owed me nothing else. (…) When I first told the club about my pregnancy, they seemed very happy for me and told me they would do anything to support me, and I believed them. But now I wasn’t so sure”, she said. But that’s not all.
Gunnarsdottir also added that her bosses advise against bringing her baby with her to her team’s away matches. The reason ? It could “disturbing other players on the bus or on the plane, if he cried all the way”. Finally, she claims that, during a meeting with Ponsot, Jean-Michel Aulas burst in, but did not greet the player. “The president also entered the room while I was there. It was the first time he had seen me since I had returned with my baby. He didn’t even greet me, look at me, or greet Ragnar. But Vincent had just reassured me, five minutes earlier, about the case, that “it wasn’t personal”. After that moment, with the president, it was however clear that this was the case. » Strong testimony that prompted OL to react via a press release sent to the media.
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“Olympique Lyonnais has always been a forerunner when it comes to women’s football and supporting athletes at every stage of their lives. We have always respected French law, which we have sometimes found too restrictive on these subjects. Thus, we have always campaigned for increased protection of players on these points. We have done everything we can to support Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir in her motherhood, as well as her return to the highest level. At her request, we agreed to allow her to take maternity leave in Iceland, her country of origin. When she returned to France, after the birth of her son, we did everything to promote her return to the highest level in conditions allowing her to best live her new life as a mother, as well as her return to competition, thanks in particular to extensive support, as we did next with Amel Majri. This subject is particularly close to our hearts and we are proud to have accompanied him in recent months throughout his pregnancy until his return to the field against Soyaux, also allowing him to travel with his daughter and nanny. In recent months, FIFA has chosen to lay down for the first time a legal framework for players who have to experience maternity during their career, which we are delighted with, notes the club. 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 to be able to return to live in Iceland, which we had accepted. We are proud to have counted Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir in the squad of Olympique Lyonnais. Our paths separated for purely sporting reasons. » It is said.