Reading captain Emma Mukandi has slammed the Football Association’s maternity policy, saying it must have been crafted by a man.
Mukandi gave birth in November 2021 before returning for Scotland in August 2022 and for Reading when the WSL season started in September.
The FA’s current maternity policy grants new mothers 14 weeks of full pay.
“If I were to have a child now, I don’t think I would be able to come back 14 weeks after giving birth,” said Mukandi, 30.
An FA spokesman said: “It is at the discretion of the clubs, who directly employ the players, whether they choose to go beyond the regulations set out in our policy.”
Reading manager Kelly Chambers said: ‘We have been supporting her and honoring a maternity package for all of these eight and a half months.
mukandi said Off The Ball COYGIG Podcast: “The policy is that you only get 14 weeks full pay and then you have to go back to your job.
“Keep in mind that our body is our work, who even invented that? Surely not someone who played football and had a baby. Is it a man? It had to be a man. A man was definitely involved in that.”
Mukandi said that the FA Policy – introduced before the start of this season and which all clubs in the top two divisions of women’s football must join – means new mothers at poorer clubs receive less support.
“If you have a lot of money at Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, you have a lot of quality facilities, having a baby there is no problem at all,” she said.
“But the further down the leagues you go and the more money comes in and the facilities, the easier it is for clubs and CEOs to say, ‘No, that’s not happening’.
“It’s a cop-out”
Mukandi said Reading, who play in the WSL, have not allowed her to bring her daughter Innes to the training ground on days when she is unable to arrange childcare.
She said they informed her via general email that children were not allowed due to “club policy”. She is working with the Association of Professional Footballers to find a solution.
Mukandi said: “It’s a bit of an escape because they know men don’t have to bring their children because they’re making £10,000 a week so their wives can just sit at home and watch the kids, or they can afford the nanny.
“Because that’s probably never happened at a club like Reading, it’s probably easier to be like, ‘We just have this no-kids policy and that’s the answer.’
“I was a bit more disappointed because they never even came to talk to me. It was just this email that was sent – a general email – but which I think was more to myself.
“If this is about me then why haven’t we had a chat and let me explain why she’s here and see if there was anything they could do to actually help rather than to just close the door?”
Mukandi revealed that she faked an injury when she was eight weeks pregnant and only told Reading about the pregnancy after the 12-week scan in case it “didn’t go well”.
“It was quite difficult,” she said. “I then had to tell the coach because it probably wasn’t fair that I kept him for so long anyway.
“At the time, there was nothing in the contracts to say if you were pregnant, there was support in place.”
“We supported Emma as best we could”
Chambers said Reading had effectively given Mukandi a maternity package before FA rules were put in place.
She told Sky Sports: “We supported Emma as best we could. We supported the contractual side of things.
“You get 14 weeks of full pay. But when it comes to week 14, Emma wasn’t ready to go back to football – physically, mentally, not ready to let Innes be with a nanny. She was a new mum who wasn’t ready to do that.
“So we supported her in that when she gave birth she should have come back between January and February, but she actually didn’t come back until pre-season this season.
“From that side, it’s hard to sit here and accept this criticism when I think we were really supportive of Emma in those times.”