World football governing body, FIFA has approved 14-week maternity leave for women players.
The new development, which was proposed in November, was given approval by FIFA council on Friday
According to the council, a player’s club will be “obliged to reintegrate her after returning from maternity leave” and as well provide adequate medical support.
In a statement on its official website, the governing body expressed;
The Council approved groundbreaking reforms to better protect female players and football coaches. The new rules, which are the result of extensive consultations with football stakeholders, will establish new global minimum standards for female players, particularly in relation to maternity.
FIFA will also introduce specific provisions establishing minimum standards for employment conditions of coaches, recognising the crucial role they play in the game.
Also, in a video shared on the governing body’s Twitter handle, Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, said the landmark measures are meant to protect women footballers.
The players are the protagonist of the game, they are the most important part of the game and we have to make sure that we set the stage for them to shine.
When it comes to female players, we should bring more stability to their careers. For example, if they need to take a maternity leave, then they don’t have to worry.
If we are serious about boosting the women’s game, we have to look at all these aspects.
Sudan’s first ever women’s club football league kicked off Monday, with two teams clashing at a Khartoum stadium as crowds of fans and diplomats cheered.
The championship, which involves 21 clubs, would have seemed unlikely just months ago when long time Islamist ruler Omar al-Bashir was in power.
The first club match was played between Tahadi and Difaain in the capital on Monday. Matches are also scheduled for Madani, Al-Obeid and Kadugli.
“Civilian rule, Civilian rule,” chanted the crowd as the first match between the two teams began.
Crowds clapped and whistled, with many also chanting “Kandaka, Kandaka,” referring to ancient Nubian queens.
The match was attended by Sudan’s new Minister of Sport Wala Essam and some Sudanese and foreign diplomats.
“This is a historical game not only for women’s sport but for Sudan,” Essam told reporters.
“We will give special attention to women’s sport and women’s football.”
The start of the women’s club football league comes amid expectations that the current three-year transition period will see liberal policies implemented across the country, including measures to promote freedom of speech, women’s rights, sport and arts.
Sudan joined FIFA in 1948. In 1957, Sudan co-founded the Confederation of African Football with Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa at a meeting in Khartoum.
But women’s football has faced an uphill fight since the country adopted Islamic sharia law in 1983, six years before Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup.
Bashir was ousted by the army in a palace coup on April 11 on the back of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule.
A new joint civilian-military ruling body, called the sovereign council, is governing of the country for a transition period of 39 months.
The 11-member council has six civilians including two women.
Akhona Makalima has made history as the first woman to officiate a men’s professional football match in the country.
Since South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) was founded in 1996, the league has fielded only male referees until 2015, when Ahkona changed the narrative.
Achieving this feat in a male-dominated sport wasn’t easy for Makalima. About seven years ago, she took advantage of an initiative created to get more women involved in football, and she eventually earned her first refereeing certificate.
She went on to become the first South African woman to pass FIFA’s fitness test for certifying referees, scaling through a series of trials most men fail.
When she eventually came on to officiate her first professional match in 2015, Makalima proved naysayers wrong by doing an incredible job. Since then she has officiated over a hundred matches in PSL, Sasol Women’s League and Africa Women Cup of Nations.
She started Inter-Refs in 2016. Through the initiative, she teaches girls about the laws of football and how they can make a livelihood through the sport.
(Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)