Under new reforms proposed by FIFA, if a club terminates a player’s contract because she has become pregnant they could be liable to face a transfer ban and a fine.

This is being introduced as one of several new measures designed to strengthen protections for female players by establishing new minimum standards globally across the women’s game.

The reforms include the following new measures:

  • coaches and players will be entitled to at least 14 weeks maternity leave, paid at a minimum of two thirds of the their contracted salary;
  • clubs must reintegrate female players and provide adequate medical and physical support, including providing facilities for breastfeeding, following a player’s return from maternity leave;
  • pregnant players must have the right to receive regular and independent medical advice;
  • clubs can register a player outside of the normal registration period to replace a player who has taken maternity leave; and
  • terminating a player’s contract because she has become pregnant will be considered termination without cause. The player will be entitled to compensation and the club could face a “sporting sanction” and a fine.

The new minimum standards will apply where a higher level of protection is not afforded to players under national laws or an agreed collective bargaining agreement.

Although there are some concerns that the new minimum standards do not set the bar high enough, FIFA’s focus on women’s maternity rights is an encouraging step.

As well as the changes to maternity rights, FIFA has also announced that it is introducing minimum standards for coaching contracts. As part of the changes, coaching contracts will need to include essential elements such as rights, obligations, remuneration and period of duration, in an effort to provide greater clarity and transparency about coaching contracts.

The new rules are expected to be approved by the FIFA Council in December 2020. If approved, they will become mandatory from 1 January 2021. Further information about the reforms is available here.