FIFA adopts new protocols to support players during pregnancy, following children's birth

While the players' maternity leave was previously adopted in 2020, the new rules extend it to coaches, non-biological and adoptive mothers.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Match Ball used for representation purpose only
FIFA World Cup 2022 Match Ball used for representation purpose only (Photo | Adidas website)

Soccer's international governing body is implementing new measures designed to further support the well-being of players and coaches during pregnancy and after the birth of their children.

The FIFA protocols give both players and coaches a minimum of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, and a minimum of eight weeks paid leave for those who adopt a child younger than 2. There is also a minimum eight weeks paid for women who are non-biological parents of newborns.

While the players' maternity leave was previously adopted in 2020, the new rules extend it to coaches, non-biological and adoptive mothers.

The protocol goes into effect on Saturday. It was approved last month by the FIFA Council.

"I think it's a big statement," former U.S. coach Jill Ellis said in a statement Friday. "These are big steps and big strides to really normalize the life that we go through as women … that's what we want to provide now at every level, the club level, the national team level — the opportunity for pro players to have the chance to be mums."

Ellis led FIFA's technical study group for the Women's World Cup last year in Australia and New Zealand.

Additionally, the regulations allow clubs more freedom to add players outside of the transfer window when players take maternity and parental leave or return from it.

It also provides for players to take paid time off from matches or training because of menstrual health.

FIFA is also encouraging member associations to provide family-friendly environments for players with children.

"In a FIFA Women's World Cup, (a player) can potentially be away from her family for five or six weeks … and that can have a big toll on the player, mentally, but also on the child," said Sarai Bareman, FIFA's chief women's soccer officer.

"So, encouraging the member associations to make provision or to allow for those mothers and parents to have the children with them during the camp, during the tournament, is a really important step which will support not only female players but all players in our sport."

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