‘It’s taken a long time for players to get paid maternity leave. I’m happy this is now place’, says Katie Chapman

    KATIE CHAPMAN hopes WSL duels pull in more spectators during the pause in Premier League action for the World Cup.

    And the former Chelsea captain is pleased players can now receive 14 weeks full paid maternity leave – a right she believes was long overdue.

    Katie Chapman, who is a mother of three, is pleased WSL players now have a right to maternity leave pay

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    Katie Chapman, who is a mother of three, is pleased WSL players now have a right to maternity leave payCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    The new rules on maternity pay came into force at the start of this season.

    Everton ace Toni Duggan became the first English player in the top tier to officially take maternity leave this term.

    After 14 weeks WSL and Women’s Championship pros are entitled to a statutory wage

    Prior to the rule change, maternity pay was offered at the discretion of clubs leading some players and managers in the game to call for its introduction.

    Chapman, who has three sons aged 19, 14, and nine, said: “I’m happy we have this in place right now because it’s important.

    “A lot of female players suffer ACL injuries, and we are happy to help them with rehab.

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     “Why would we not support them in that situation (when they have a child)?

    “I had my first child in 2003 and back then, there wasn’t a lot of support within that.

    “It’s taken a long time to get to the point to even have maternity (leave) evolved into contracts.

    “As women (and football players) we have rights to have children and have maternity leave and to be paid during this period”

    Being brought up by a mother who played at the highest levels of club football as well as making 94 England appearances has seen Chapman’s sons develop huge respect for the women’s game.

    The former Blues midfield star added: “Having three boys and being a female playing football, my kids go to football, and they train and play with girls, and they don’t bat eyelid.

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    “There is not an issue with a girl or a woman playing football and I’m so proud of that.”

    This afternoon the Blues host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge with a few of Graham Potter’s Prem players away on World Cup duty.

    A crowd of around 40,000 are expected – a far cry from the numbers that watched the first Chelsea Women’s game played at the stadium in October 2016.

    Back then Chapman and her team-mates lost 3-0 to Wolfsburg in the Champions League.

    Chapman, who skippered Chelsea to their first WSL title in 2015, said: “I remember that game well as Wolfsburg were the bane of my life back then, but it was great to play at Stamford Bridge

    “The crowd that day wasn’t that great in terms of size. I think it was something like 3,700, but it was great for us to be there.”

    Chapman is keen to see more WSL duels played at bigger stadiums

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    Chapman is keen to see more WSL duels played at bigger stadiumsCredit: PA:Press Association

    On the Blues duel with Spurs Chapman, who made 61 appearances for Emma Hayes’ side in a four-year spell, added: “Everyone loves a London derby.

    “It’s a great match to be played at Stamford Bridge and I believe it’s a sell-out which will be amazing for the women’s game.

    “The smaller grounds we’ve used are more intimate, but we are starting to fill those stadiums now.

    “Hopefully we can keep pushing forward and keep playing more games in the bigger stadiums and we can get the crowds in.

    “We should take the opportunity within this World Cup as well with the timing of it during the domestic season.”

    Blues heroine Chapman, who began her senior playing career at Millwall Lionesses in 1996, skippered Chelsea to two FA Cup wins in addition to a league title.

    Chelsea could go top of the table if they beat Rehanne Skinner's Tottenham side

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    Chelsea could go top of the table if they beat Rehanne Skinner’s Tottenham sideCredit: PA

    A glittering club career that led the midfield powerhouse to play for Arsenal, Fulham, and Charlton as well as Millwall winning 28 domestic trophies.

    These include a Champions League crown during a four-year Gunners spell and four league titles. 

    Honours that saw the former WSL player inducted into the Women’s Super League Hall of Fame in October alongside former Blues team-mates Eniola Aluko and Karen Carney.

    This afternoon Chapman’s former club aim to leapfrog Arsenal and Manchester United in the top flight.

    A win for the Blues in their clash with Tottenham, which kicks off at 1:00 pm, would see go top of the table

    The game will be Emma Hayes’ first match in the dugout for Chelsea following the Blues’ boss undergoing an emergency hysterectomy last month.

    The title-holders notched up six wins across all competitions in Hayes’ absence with their victories overseen by assistant Denise Reddy and general manager Paul Green

    These include gritty away defeats of United in the WSL and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

    Emma Hayes will be back in the dugout for Chelsea when they take on Spurs at Stamford Bridge

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    Emma Hayes will be back in the dugout for Chelsea when they take on Spurs at Stamford BridgeCredit: Getty

    Chapman said: “Emma is a big person at Chelsea and I’m sure she has been missing in the club since she has been away,

    “But it shows how well she prepared herself for her not to be there for them to run the show.

    “They’ve got the results they needed from this period, and to have her back I’m sure would be an extra boost.”

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