Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Botswana Determined to adopt New FIFA Protocols Supporting Female Players 

Botswana Football Association (BFA) is set to adopt new FIFA protocols in support of female players and coaches during pregnancy and after the birth of their children. 

The international football governing body has recommended that the protocols be adopted in May of this year. Players’ maternity leave was previously adopted in 2020. However, four years later the new rules have been extended to coaches, non-biological, same- sex (parents) and adoptive mothers.

According to FIFA, the protocols have been extended not only to maternity leave but also adoption leave, family leave. They entitle players to request leave from training and matches due to menstrual health reasons while still receiving full payment. Additionally, if medical complications do arise due to pregnancy, associations are mandated to support players when they cannot participate in training or matches.

Both players and coaches are to receive 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 two years old. For children between two and four years old the leave period drops to four weeks, and two weeks leave period will be granted to a child older than four years. 

“These new protocols by FIFA are a good decision and initiative. Botswana is an inclusive society and it is a must to promote a safe environment for women in sport. As BFA we have to be compliant with what FIFA seeks to achieve and as such we will adopt the changes as well for the greater good of our game,” Chief Executive Officer, Mfolo Mfolo says. 

Despite not stating when the implementation of the protocols will be adopted in Botswana, Mfolo is optimistic that they will be adopted. “The protocols have been formulated in a way that is improving and growing the game while promoting continuity and support at the same time to those involved in the game and this needs an applause,” he adds. 

In addition to the new protocols, female players will be allowed to sign with clubs outside of the registration window if and when they return from maternity, adoption or family leave. Also, clubs will be allowed to sign players outside the registration window period to cover those who are absent. 

“When FIFPRO began to draft a parental policy in professional football in 2019, the only women-specific clause in the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), was the exclusion of women’s football from training compensation.”

“When FIFPRO presented its policy in 2020, there was good collaboration with FIFA and by the end of that year, we had negotiated an initial set of maternity rules that came into force on 1 January 2021: these give women players the right to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, among other benefits,” Alexandra Gómez Bruinewoud commented in an interview on the FIFPRO website.

Regarding the protocols, Bruinewoud said: “They have become a baseline for players rights and helped mothers around the world. They help players to stay in the game, and not be pushed to choose.” 

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