Lara Lugli

The story of volleyball player Lara Lugli

Are women in sports still penalized? With less streaming attention, a not-so equal pay, and sexism, the answer seems to be yes. And when motherhood enters the equation, it’s a recipe for disaster. So, can women be both mothers and athletes? Ask Lara Lugli. 

The answer should be yes, but the story of volleyball player Lara Lugli tells a different tale. It’s the story of athletes who want to become mothers. And that personal choice becomes a business matter. 

It’s a loss-loss situation

During the 2018-2019 season, Lugli was playing with the Volley Pordenone. She was the captain and the star of the team. Until her pregnancy. Then, Lugli’s star fell and she was fired. Unfortunately, she didn’t carry out her pregnancy, since she had a spontaneous abortion. 

While dealing with her personal loss, the volleyball player had to deal with the prejudice of the team. In fact, Lara Lugli didn’t get paid, so Lugli chose to pursue the matter legally, citing damages and filing an order for payment. The answer of Volley Pordenone shocked the ex captain.

Instead of trying to calm the situation, the team claimed damages back. Why? Because Lugli never disclosed to the team her desire for motherhood. By hiding her desire to be a mother, she eventually damaged the team’s performance. Hence, the club lost sponsorship money. So, Lugli was punished because she wanted to be a mother. And then, because she tried becoming one. 

Plus, the sports association claimed a specific line on the players’ contracts. In it, there is a note that forecasts the interruption of the contract in case of pregnancy. While the team tried to use this clause as a justification, no one was buying it. And the world of sports united in solidarity to the captain, showing up to games with a volleyball below their shirt. Even soccer players. 

Mine has become a battle for rights 

At first, Lugli had only published her story on social media to her acquaintances in the volleyball world. In the beginning, she was afraid of sharing her intimate tale with strangers. Plus, she didn’t want to be the victim of any prejudice. 

The volleyball player didn’t expect what came next. “I wasn’t expecting all this noise,” Lugli said to La Repubblica, “mine had become a battle for rights, not merely an economic and financial one.”

The battle is going to court, when the player will hear and meet the team for the first time since the forced breakup. 

Although Volley Pordenone doesn’t see it as an unhappy marriage. In fact, the team claims no one ever filed for damages because no one in the club believes pregnancy is a damage. Still, the clause exists. The ex captain isn’t ready to let it go. She believes that when she became too loud, she was let go. 

Going to court

In fact, she didn’t accept any reconciliation effort. Lugli asked for her due salary and that is what she expected to receive. In mid May, the case went to court. And the player won. Volley Pordenone backtracked, renouncing to its suit and giving Lugli her due salary. 

It’s a happy ending for a story that shouldn’t even have existed. However, it did. And so do others, similar and that haven’t received the same spotlight. Female athletes often have to choose between motherhood and being an athlete. 

“The club talks about a serious breach of contract that created serious damages,” Lugli said to La Repubblica, “comparing pregnancy to an illicit act, like drugs. I hope my story inspires other athletes to defend their rights. In sports, unfortunately, profit comes before anything else.” 

Why is this happening? Check out our amateur vs professional sports story



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