the employer’s recommendation aimed at better protecting players is “a huge step forward”, according to the president of the professional clubs union

An employer recommendation which aims to better protect D1 and D2 players in the event of injury or maternity leave was adopted on Friday March 1.


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Laurent Nicollin has been president of Montpellier Hérault Sport Club since 2017. (SYLVAIN THOMAS / AFP)

The president of Foot Unis, the union of professional clubs, and of the Montpellier Hérault football club, Laurent Nicollin, welcomes, in an interview with the Sports Department of Radio France, the employer recommendation adopted on Friday March 1, which aims to improve protect D1 and D2 players in the event of injury or maternity leave. The Montpellier president, whose club was the first to professionalize its women’s section, returned to franceinfo on this “huge progress”.

franceinfo: Can we speak of a “revolution” with this recommendation adopted by Foot Unis, to protect female footballers?

Laurent Nicollin: Yes, we found the situation a little complicated for the players. For two years, we have been talking with all our social partners, in particular the players’ union, to move things forward. Sometimes things go well, sometimes not so well. We decided to preserve the health of the players, to strike a major blow and validate on the club side everything concerning the health of the players in the event of pregnancy or injury, whether they are covered, and even more. This is a huge step forward. We wanted to prepare it fairly quickly, before the start of next season, because these are budgets to plan for. We are very proud because this is the first time that there has been an employer recommendation on this subject. I hope the players will be happy with it. So, this is only the beginning of the work, because there are still many things to put in place, including the collective agreement. But preserving health, pregnancy and motherhood is an important thing.

Getting pregnant during your career, was it almost taboo for the players?

Absolutely, these are discussions that I have sometimes had with my players [en tant que président du Montpellier Hérault football club]. And one of them said to me: “If I have to have a child, it will be at the end of my career.” This shocked me a little and made me more aware, because I didn’t see why she couldn’t, at 24-25 years old, have a child. There are some in France who have done it [la Lyonnaise et internationale française Amel Majri, par exemple], but they are very few. Now, with these measures, it will make things easier, they will be able to say “I can have a child, have a wonderful motherhood” and have systems that will support her in being a professional player. It was something important to put in place.

Concretely, will the players be supported by the clubs?

We go beyond, we will support them over 12 months. And we will help them afterwards also by putting in place, once they return to training, a whole system of support with a system for breastfeeding, with rooms so that they can breastfeed peacefully, a whole system which was not at the moment. agenda in football. It’s a great step to have this in place.

Measures in the wake of the process of professionalization of women’s football?

We are professionalizing women’s football, little by little. We would like to go much faster. There has been a desire from the FFF since Jean-Michel Aulas took charge. When we created a union in 2019 which brought together all the D1 and D2 clubs, we felt a little isolated, we were already having difficulty putting things in place. We were fighting for girls to have more rights and more things. But we did not have a favorable reception from the Federation. There, that changed.

A new collective agreement is expected in the coming weeks, why is it still stuck?

We are blocked on image rights and on the nest egg that the UNFP, the players’ union, wants. We, the clubs, do not want image rights. As for the nest egg, we are more on a retirement plan, we are in the process of discussing with them so that we can move forward. They have a fixed idea on one thing, we on another. Three weeks or a month ago, we requested a meeting to sit around a table, we didn’t hear back. I hope we will have some very soon. We are a big football family, our daughters deserve that we find the right solutions so that they can only think about football.

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