An Italian volleyball player whose former club wants her to pay compensation for becoming pregnant has hit out after being sacked for trying to become a mother.
Lara Lugli, 41, revealed on Facebook how her contract with Serie C club Pordenone, based near Udine, was terminated in March 2019 when she became pregnant.
She later suffered a miscarriage and did not return to the club. Two years later, Lugli received a summons to appear in court, as the club sought compensation from their former captain for breach of contract.
They claimed she had not stated her intention to have children and that her pregnancy had an impact on results and loss of sponsors.
It followed a financial request from the player for the payment of her final month's salary, amounting to $A1500 ($1620), according to Italian press reports.
"A woman, if she becomes pregnant cannot harm anyone and should not compensate anyone for it," Lugli wrote on Facebook.
The club said in a statement said that the summons was intended to "defend" them against the financial demands of the player.
Lugli shared a court document on Facebook in which Pordenone reportedly accused her of "disproportionately selling her experience" and "hiding her desire to be a mother".
"When I read the legal document, I was so angry," Lugli told the Guardian. "I've been playing volleyball for 25 years and had given it everything — they knew this.
"They said a 38-year-old woman should have known whether she wanted to have a baby and therefore should have said something. Not only did they call into question my professionalism but they are comparing pregnancy to illicit and malicious conduct — it's a very serious thing."
Italian senate speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati likened the case to "violence against women" and foreign minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook: "To think that a woman today is forced to choose between a child and her career is no longer tolerable."
Italian association Assist, which defends sportswomen, called on the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to improve the status of amateur athletes.
"This case is not unique and does not only concern volleyball, but highlights an unworthy practice," the organisation said.
"CONI president Giovanni Malago, had a telephone conversation this morning (Wednesday) with Lara Lugli.
"At the end of the phone call (Malago) expressed all his solidarity with Lara Lugli and invited her for a meeting at CONI."