Women's World Cup to be 'crown jewels' event as players in England gain maternity cover

Women’s football was discussed in the UK Parliament yesterday, in a debate convened and led by MP Julie Elliot

Women’s football was discussed in the UK Parliament yesterday, in a debate convened and led by MP Julie Elliot.

The debate was sparked by the near-liquidation of Coventry United, who play in the Women’s Championship.

The club entered voluntary liquidation in December, but was saved at the last minute by Lewis Taylor, the CEO of the Midlands-based energy company Energy Angels.

During the debate, Elliot revealed the FA and Professional Footballers Association had agreed a new player contract which includes maternity and long-term sickness cover, which covers both the Women’s Super League and Championship.

“If that is accurate and is to be implemented, it will be a massive step forward for the status of women footballers and, more importantly, for the terms and conditions and employment rights that they experience,” Elliot said.

“I pay tribute to all those who have worked so hard in the game to get to this point.”

It will be the first time WSL and Championship players are guaranteed such cover. In March 2020, the FA revealed maternity provisions were not in its standard player contract, and were instead at the discretion of clubs.

In November 2020, FIFA introduced a minimum 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, with at least eight weeks after birth at two-thirds of a player’s salary.

FIFA threatened fines and transfer bans for clubs who discriminated against players during pregnancy, but the organisation’s measures were criticised for not going far enough.

As the debate in Parliament continued, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston announced the Women’s World Cup and European Championship could be added to the ‘crown jewels’ of British sporting events.

Currently, no women’s sports events form part of Group A, where full live coverage must be broadcast on terrestrial TV, or Group B, where only highlights must be shown free-to-air.

The Women's World Cup could be included on the 'crown jewels' event list

“I think I can make a few people happy today by announcing that I have written to sports’ governing bodies and broadcasters outlining that the Secretary of State and I are minded to add the Women’s World Cup and the women’s Euros to the listed events regime,” Huddleston said.

“We will have a short re-consultation, which will end on February 16th. This is a huge opportunity for women’s football; it can bring those tournaments to an even larger audience.”

Sporting events currently on the Government’s listed events regime include the men’s World Cup, European Championship, Olympics, Paralympics, FA Cup Final, Wimbledon, and the Rugby World Cup Final.

Several MPs asked Huddleston to announce when there would be a review into women’s football, but he did not do so.

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