EU Athletes supports the case of Spanish cyclist Leire Olaberría, which raises important questions about the gender equality in sport, women’s rights for family and personal life and more generally, about the rights of women as athletes and as women in society. The article from The Cyclists’ Alliance:
Multi-time Spanish champion and 2008 Olympic medalist, Leire Olaberría, has challenged the alleged discrimination against her by the Spanish national cycling federation (RFEC). She has filed a complaint with Spain’s highest sporting authority, the National Sports Council, as well as an ethics complaint to the UCI, regarding her maternity rights. One of The Cyclists’ Alliance’s fundamental objectives is to uphold the rights of every woman to have a family and pursue a racing career, and we wholeheartedly support Olaberría’s actions.
Olaberría recently became a mother for the first time, and just four months after recovering from childbirth, she resumed training and competing at the elite level. However, the RFEC placed special conditions on her participation in the national track cycling program training camp, including paying the costs for travel and care of her baby, and the costs for her partner or a nanny to help with the baby’s needs. She was selected for the European Championships at the camp, but the RFEC again demanded that she pay all costs for her baby and a caregiver to travel to the Berlin event, but since she did not have enough money in reserve, she had to decline her spot on the team.
When Olaberría spoke up against these demands, the national team stated that she was in violation of team behavior and disregarded the superior authority of her team manager. Olaberría was eventually excluded from the national team altogether, despite the absence of any documentation of this alleged behavior, nor any record of a disciplinary action by the team against her. Since then, Olaberría has demonstrated that she is still among the world’s top track racers by earning a significant amount of UCI points in other international events, while competing with the help of a small team she organized around her.
The Association for Women in Professional Sport (AMDP), an organization for the advancement of all Spanish women in sport (including athletes, trainers and technicians, coaches, and journalists), has brought her case forward under the umbrella of Spain’s Equal Rights law, which also has specific provisions for the rights of women in sport. Specifically, the AMDP is asserting that the actions of the Spanish Federation are damaging Olaberría’s sporting career due to its discriminatory treatment of her. When Olaberría was asked to compete for the national team, it was because of her excellent results; but when she asked for provisions to accommodate her baby (which is her right under Spanish law), the team allegedly began to treat her unfairly.
Olaberría’s case is just beginning, but fundamentally it is about the rights of women as athletes and as women in society. The Cyclists’ Alliance will work with our partners in athlete rights, including EU Athletes and the World Players Association, to help factually and lawfully present Olaberría’s case to the appropriate sporting bodies if possible. We have already made strides with the UCI to introduce better treatment, and the Alliance will continue to press for maternity rights as a fundamental standard condition in our contracts with our teams at every level, and in every discipline, of our sport.
Motherhood should not restrict your choices and trajectory as a professional cyclist. Having a child may be a defining moment in your life, but it is not the end of your sporting career. Many women racing today have started families, and some, like former world champion Lizzie Deignan, have made their intentions clear that motherhood will make them stronger and even more determined competitors in the future.
If you have questions about your maternity rights as a cyclist and as a working professional in sport, please don’t hesitate to contact a board member of the Alliance today. We can help you to find your country’s labor and discrimination laws, and to help you understand your rights to build a family while also building a successful bicycle racing career.
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EU Athletes supports FNASS (Fédération nationale des associations et syndicats de sportifs) and our French affiliates UNFP (football), SNB (basketball), PROVALE (rugby) and AJPH (handball), protesting the changes in the law which extends the duration of the first professional contract for athletes.
By introducing the amendment in the law on vocational training (formation professionnelle) which affects the sport law, the deputes supported by the Sport Minister’s cabinet, have responded to wishes of sport organizations’ officials (especially those in football) who wants to keep the young players in their clubs as long as possible. It could effectively restrict player’s right to work and prevent them from developing their professional careers.
As FNASS points out, there are no other reasons for this change except for financial ones. It puts all the players in the same category, without taking into account the specificities present in different sports. Even if football is being targeted, the harmful effects will touch all the sports represented in FNASS as well as the other ones.
Sylvain Kastendeuch, the President of FNASS, outraged by the amendment, asks: “How can we act as if the social dialogue didn’t exist, without listening to the voice of athletes and their representatives, who have clearly expressed their refusal to change the duration of the first professional contract from 3 to 5 years? How can we forget the EU Directive 99/70 on fix-term work who gives the right to define fix-term contacts to social partners?”
FNASS demands the withdrawal of the amendment, which wouldn’t have improved the conditions of training of athletes in France or their status. It would only allow certain entities to make more gains, with a breach of athletes’ commercial freedom and without thinking about their future.
Paulina Tomczyk, the General Secretary of EU Athletes, added: “We stand by our French members and athletes, who protest both the content of the amendment and the process in which it was introduced. It is not acceptable that the rights of professional athletes are restricted just because they work in sport. Social dialogue is an essential component of good governance and the competence of social partners in defining employment issues in sport must be respected.”
To find out more visit FNASS website www.fnass.fr and follow them on Twitter @FNASS_
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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.
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The main goal of this association, registered in Spain, is to act as FIFA’s interlocutors for the development of women’s futsal. FIPA is formed by well-known international players such as Jozi Oliveira from Brazil, Shiori Nakajima from Japan and Lorena Rubio from Spain among others.
FIPA was constituted on the 15th of December, the main objective being to act as relevant partners and to work on the development of women’s futsal. The association is made up of international players such as Jozi Oliveira from Brazil, Shiori Nakajima from Japan, Lorena Rubio from Spain. The project also includes the President of the Spanish Women’s Futsal Association & Vice president of the European Elite Athletes Association Natalia Orive, the lawyer expert in sports laws, María José López González, as well as the President of the Spanish Men’s Futsal Association, Antonio García-Plata. This association wants to reach the maximum number of female players worldwide, knowing in what way their work is carried out and to promote women´s futsal at all levels women’s. Hence, different nationalities are represented on the Board of Directors.
Currently, this sport suffers from direct discrimination as there are no official competitions nor development programs for the inclusion and development of female football players in the field of futsal. Futsal modality is under FIFA´s protection: men´s futsal have their right to tournaments and official competitions, with the exception of women’s futsal. Recently there has been an Asian Cup and South American Cup Tournament “officially” but without information and promotion. A European Championship is foreseen for 2019 for the first time in the history created by UEFA, however at international level the approach and the strategy for futsal is unknown. There is no response from FIFA despite the serious consequences on women in futsal such as the lack of:
– Economic investment
– Visibility and promotion
Not being recognised is giving rise to nonexistent leagues, non-regulation of the competition schedule of existing leagues, causing tournaments in different continents to coincide, such as the Asia Cup, American Cup and 4 Nations Tournament. In these cases, players must choose between leaving their leagues to play with their national team or not play with their national team and therefore the regular league in which they are. And so, they are not considered as elite athletes by not competing officially, leading to precarious sport conditions and jobs.
FIPA is the only existing futsal organisation which is international. It was formed to facilitate the interlocution of federations of all continents and create delegations in every country The key role of this association belongs to the players: they decide which issues and needs are relevant in women´s futsal. Our main goal is that players are treated with respect and equality as professional athletes and that official female futsal competitions are recognised.
Contact: Natalia Orive, president FIPA +0034 647088925
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