The discrimination of women athletes when it comes to their professional status and the denial of labour rights has been confirmed by the results of SWAFE project. This has a direct connection to the lack of maternity protection that many athletes are facing, being forced to chose between their professional careers and family life.
Our Italian affiliates, under the leadership of GIBA and its President Alessandro Marzoli, have been involved in the successful negotiations of a new law aiming to assure that elite level and professional women athletes can enjoy the same maternity rights as other workers.
The problem was linked to the lack of recognition of athletes “worker” status, which was only restricted to highest level, mainly Olympic athletes champions and famous sportswomen are considered “ worker “ and employed in a way that include maternity protection. All other athletes, due to a sport law – 91/1981 – are considered by their federation “dilettanti“ (amateur), even if they are de facto professional players. It would often happen that in case of pregnancy clubs would immediately terminate the contract with the athlete who would not be paid anymore.
The attempts to change this unacceptable situation have been going on since 20 years. Thanks to the extensive work of Italian player unions and cooperation with CONI Athlete Committee the importance of the issue has been recognized by the Italian government.
In December 2017 the law drafted in cooperation with athlete organizations has been approved by the Parliament and in February 2018 signed by Italian Prime Minister. This important law changes the restrictions related to athletes’ professional status, and importantly, establishes a funding system that will cover athlete’s maternity protection, making sure that their receive subsidies during their pregnancy to replace the sport wages.
More information (in Italian) available on GIBA’s website.