Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir denounces “shameful” behavior during her pregnancy

A year ago, the coach of the Olympique Lyonnais women’s team Sonia Bompastor told the Progress wanting to be “exemplary” in the management of Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir, the first active player in the history of the club to have given birth to a baby, on November 16, 2021: “It’s a big first for us, but I I was very clear on this subject with the club: we must lead by example. It is important, because she will come back with a baby a few months old and she must be calm about this situation”. According to the long forum written on Tuesday on the site The Players’ Tribune by the 32-year-old midfielder, now at Juventus, she was really not calm during her pregnancy, due to a dispute with OL.

On work stoppage from April 2021, Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir has indeed found from Iceland that she no longer receives her full salary from her employer. “I had no reason to think anything would go wrong, but there I had only received a small percentage from Social Security,” she explains. I called my agent and he wrote to Vincent Ponsot [le directeur du football de l’OL]. At first he didn’t get an answer, then after official letters, Vincent apologized for two months of salary that I missed. He told us that I will be paid for those, but not from the third month, explaining that it was French law. »

“I felt lost, stressed and betrayed”

The scorer in Lyon’s victory in the 2020 Champions League final against Wolfsburg (3-1) then turned to FIFPRO (International Federation of Professional Football Associations), citing the new FIFA rules. She says she was deeply disappointed by the attitude of Vincent Ponsot and OL: “I didn’t expect that, especially from a club like this. We no longer got any response, the months passed and I still did not have a full salary, without having a clear answer from OL on the criteria applied. She continues:

When my agent told Vincent Ponsot that FIFPRO was going to fight this at FIFA level, he replied: “If Sara goes to FIFA with this, she has no future in Lyon”. I was just shocked and hurt. How could a club like OL get away with this? It should have been the happiest moment of my life. All I wanted was to enjoy my pregnancy and work hard to come back to help the team and the club. But instead, I felt lost, stressed, and betrayed. »

Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir also charges Jean-Michel Aulas, whom she saw again in January 2022 when she returned to training with the team: “It was the first time he had seen me since I came back with my baby Ragnar. He didn’t even greet me or look at Ragnar. From that moment, with the president, it was clear that it had become a personal problem”. And the player only had six appearances in the Lyon jersey when she returned for the second half of last season.

OL had to pay 82,000 euros in unpaid wages

In May 2022, the club was ordered by the FIFA football court to pay him the unpaid wages, at the level of the amount claimed by the Icelandic player, i.e. 82,000 euros. “FIFA found that the club had no contact with me during my pregnancy,” she said. Nobody really watched me, followed me, saw how I was doing mentally and physically, both as an employee, but also as a human being. Basically, the club had a responsibility to take care of me, and they didn’t. I was entitled to my full salary during my pregnancy, and until the start of my maternity leave, according to the mandatory regulations of FIFA. It is part of my rights, and it cannot be disputed, even by a club as big as Lyon. »

Once obtained their reasons, OL did not appeal this decision. Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir concludes: “I want to make sure that no one will ever go through what I went through again. And I want Lyon to know that’s not OK. It’s not “just business”. It’s about my rights as a worker, as a woman and as a human being. There is still a lot of work to be done for women’s football. We deserve better”.

Megan Rapinoe very upset against her former club

OL reacted via a press release on Tuesday evening, recalling that it has “always been a pioneer in women’s football and supporting athletes at all times of their lives”. He relies in this sense on another of his players, Amel Majri, who also became a mother last July, and extended in stride until 2026 by his training club.

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 Gunnarsdottir in her motherhood, as well as her return to the highest level. 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 about. FIFA is now criticizing us for not having offered another job to Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir 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. »

And OL clarifies to finish: “We are proud to have counted Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir in the workforce of Olympique Lyonnais. Our paths separated for purely sporting reasons. Nevertheless, criticism has been increasing against OL since Tuesday evening for its humane management of the first pregnancy in its history within the workforce of a European champion team eight times since 2011 The icon of world women’s football Megan Rapinoe, who played for OL from 2013 to 2014, launched on Twitter : “It’s completely shameful on the part of OL. You love to talk about how much you support women, but these calculations are not calculations. I implore you to be the club that still supports women, not the club that once did. Another decidedly very trying week for Olympique Lyonnais and Jean-Michel Aulas.

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