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Women footballers in England get maternity cover after historic change | Women’s football

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Professional women footballers in England are to benefit from maternity and long-term sickness cover as part of a historic change to their contracts.

The move was hailed as a “big step forward” by Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott after she called a debate in parliament on women’s experiences of football in England. The change has been accepted by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Players from all 24 clubs in the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will be guaranteed such coverage for the first time. The details have only recently been finalized and have not yet been disclosed. “I pay tribute to everyone who has worked so hard to get to this point,” Elliott said.

The FA said in March 2020 that maternity provisions were not in its standard player contract, which is drawn up in consultation with the PFA, and that maternity cover was at the clubs’ discretion.

Calls have grown for more to be done to support players who choose to have children, with a growing number deciding not to wait until retirement to start a family. They include top players such as American forward Alex Morgan, whose daughter Charlie was born in May 2020. Morgan returned to action, with Tottenham, in November.

Fifa announced the same month that it would introduce a set of minimum rights for female players under contract around the world, with measures that would lead clubs to fines and transfer bans if they discriminate against female players during pregnancy. . However, those proposals – a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity leave with at least eight weeks after birth at two-thirds of a player’s salary – have been criticized for not going far enough.

“We’ve seen how long it took for Alex Morgan, one of the best players in the world who probably has the best people around her and the best access to staff [to come back from having a baby]said Watford striker and mum-of-two Helen Ward at the time. “For everyone, you have to think it’s going to take the same, if not more. It is a difficult subject and requires a lot of work.

In a debate at Westminster Hall convened by Elliott, the experiences of female players were discussed in light of the near collapse of Coventry United, where, two days before Christmas and underlining the precarious nature of players’ contracts, the team been informed that their contracts had been terminated and the club would be put into voluntary liquidation.

Taiwo Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, said: “Women playing professional football often face short contracts, low wages and poor working conditions. It is important that we consider how best to ensure that what almost happened to my local women’s team in Coventry before Christmas does not become the norm.

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Several MPs have urged Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston to announce if and when there will be a women’s football review after the fan-led review recommended one, but it would not be drawn, saying that A response would be included in the government’s response to the report’s recommendations this summer.

Huddleston said the Women’s World Cup and Women’s Euro had met the criteria of having “special national resonance” and would likely be added to the “crown jewels” list of protected events. This means tournaments would be available on free-to-air TV to ensure the widest possible access to the biggest events in women’s football.

Women footballers in England get maternity cover after historic change | Women’s football

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