Spanish sports body expresses concern over anti-pregnancy clause

The Superior Council of Sports (CSD), the Spanish Government organisation responsible for directing the development of sport within Spain, has contacted all national sporting federations to be vigilant and address "any conduct that goes against the equal treatment of men and women" after reports suggested that clubs have the right to terminate contracts should female athletes fall pregnant, with no right to compensation.

The anti-pregnancy clause used by football, handball and basketball clubs was first reported in December 2016 after Mariano Pons, goalkeeper, and former international handball player, Begoña Fernández, spoke to El Mundo.

"I saw it in one of my teams, a very young girl was fired for getting pregnant. She went back home, got depressed, and ended up having a miscarriage and days after she was called back and offered a new contract." said Fernández.

The clause restricting motherhood is often imposed to younger sportswomen, who are less aware of their rights and are at the earlier stages of their careers. But given the climate of silence and fear among women playing in the amateur leagues in Spain, it is unknown how many clubs have such clauses.

"I found three contracts of this type when I was dealing with several cases of non-payment," López explained. "On the quiet, they tell me that there are a lot more, but that no one dares to report them."

López, who chose these clauses as her rallying cry for this battle because they are the most notable aspect of discrimination, says that there are more: "The lack of collective agreements also means that sportswomen do not enjoy the same rights as men in the case of incapacity, non-payment, revenue from betting…"

The existence of an 'anti-pregnancy' clause was denied at first by the Spanish government. But the outrage of some political parties, including Cuidadanos and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, who urged the government to amend the law, has lead to further investigation into the issue.

José Ramón, Secretary of State for Sport, said: "We can’t do anything about them, they are a labor law issue," he added.

"If they were presented to a labor tribunal, anyone would win the case. They are not included in any sports law, so there is no regulation change that we can make. It is only if people report them can we do something to help those affected."

For Ana Muñoz, the former head of CSD, the state should not only modify the law to take female athletes into account, but it should also apply preventive measures and carry out inspections.

From El País

Report incident