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FIFA's Maternity Benefits For Female Players Enforced By Football Tribunal (Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir v Lyon)

Steffen Prößdorf
Friday, 03 February 2023 By David Winnie, Manan Agrawal, Sean Cottrell

Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir (“Sara”) captain of the Icelandic national football team and Juventus player, recently secured a landmark victory for female footballers. In May 2022, a FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (“DRC”) panel (part of the FIFA Football Tribunal (“FFT”)) ordered her then club, Olympique Lyonnais (“Lyon”) in France to pay her unpaid salaries of more than €82,000 (£72,000) as a consequence of back dated maternity pay in a decision which has been recently made public. Post the decision being made public, Sara also wrote about her side of the story in an article for the Players Tribune[1].

In what has been described as a “wake-up call for all clubs”, this landmark case saw FIFA’s regulations take precedence over French law and helps guarantee the rights of female football players during pregnancy.  

This article looks at the background and facts of the dispute, FIFA’s new maternity policy, and how this was utilised by Sara to achieve her stunning victory.

The decision of the DRC can be viewed in full here.

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Written by

David Winnie

David Winnie

David is partner and the head of sports at Burlingtons Legal LLP. His practice spans a wide range of transactional and regulatory areas of sports law. 

David specialises in commercial and regulatory advice to clients in the sports and media sectors. His experience includes acting for athletes and rights holders on sponsorship matters. He also regularly advises on governance issues in sport and on player contracts, football transfers and image rights structures.

David has acted for clients in cases before the Football Association's (FA) Rule K Arbitration, the EFL Compensation Committee, FIFA's Football Tribunal and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

Prior to his career in law, David was a professional football player and coach at the highest levels. He played in Champions League, UEFA Cup and ECWC competitions and won the Scottish FA Cup as a player. David also represented his country at U21 level.

Manan Agrawal

Manan Agrawal


Manan is currently an Editor at LawInSport. Before joining LawInSport, Manan practiced law at a leading media and entertainment law firm in Mumbai, India. Manan has been a part of LawInSport's inaugural Academy Mentoring Scheme and was mentored by LawInSport CEO and Founder, Sean Cottrell.

Sean Cottrell

Sean Cottrell

Sean is the founder and CEO of LawInSport. Founded in 2010, LawInSport has become the "go to sports law website" for sports lawyers and sports executives across the world.

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