Sweden’s Rubensson wants pregnant players to get more support

GOTHENBURG, Sweden: BK Haecken midfielder Elin Rubensson has called on Swedish football to support players who decide to become pregnant during their elite careers and offer them greater security.

Less than a year after the birth of her son Frans, Sweden international Rubensson was back pulling the strings as her side lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on a snowy night in Gothenburg on Thursday.

That result ended Haecken’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, but Rubensson is keen to use her platform to push for change.

“When I became pregnant there was no pregnancy policy. I have a relatively long contract with two years left so I wasn’t that worried, but if I had a contract that was running down I would have been worried, because you don’t know what is going to happen,” she told Reuters in an interview.

The 28-year-old said players discuss the situation and suggested either freezing contracts or automatically extending them in the event that a player becomes pregnant.

“There is a pregnancy policy being created to provide security so we know what is happening, and (players’ union) FIFPro have created one at a European level,” Rubensson said.

“The Swedish union is doing the same but they aren’t quite finished yet. They’ve been doing it since I came up to the elite level, and it’s very bad that it hasn’t been completed yet – it should be given that it is in our contracts.”

WELFARE PAYMENT

Capped 70 times by her country, Rubensson was paid 10 per cent of her salary by her club, along with a Swedish social welfare payment paid to those who cannot do physical work during pregnancy.

Rubensson revealed that she and her partner Filip decided to have a child when the COVID-19 pandemic caused elite-level sport to be put on hold in 2020.

“We felt ready, and then corona came and the Olympics was postponed, the league was pushed forward, everything was very unclear and we felt ready, so we took the opportunity,” she said.

“We’ve always wanted to have children relatively early, or more so that I haven’t wanted to wait until after my career, so it’s always been a question of when it would suit. There’s been (international) championships every year and at the same time I felt that football can’t completely steer everything.”

With Filip on parental leave, Rubensson has returned to her career.

“I feel that I’m almost physically better than what I was before the pregnancy. I’m beating records on the running tests and I recorded a new top speed when we played Bayern Munich away,” she said.

Well aware of the wage gap between men’s and women’s soccer, Rubensson hopes she can set an example to other players considering pregnancy.

“There is a risk that one sacrifices one’s career, in part because there’s no security and also because you don’t know how you will react physically after a pregnancy,” she said.

“It might be that your view changes completely after you have a child, that you don’t want to be part of the elite. There’s a lot of things that male players don’t need to think about in the same way. That’s what we (women) talk about.”