'I had to fake an injury because I didn't want to tell anyone I was pregnant' - Reading captain Emma Mukandi

Emma Mukandi Reading Women 2022-23
Emma Mukandi, captain of Reading's women's team, has revealed she faked injury to hide her pregnancy, which she worried wouldn't "go down well".
  • Mukandi gave birth in November 2021
  • FA introduced maternity policy for 2022-23 season
  • Reading skipper has criticised support for mothers

WHAT HAPPENED? Mukandi gave birth to a baby girl in November 2021 and her recent comments have shone a light on the obstacles and lack of support women's footballers who are also mothers can face.

WHAT THEY SAID: “I think at the time, there was nothing in the contracts to say there was anything in place so I didn’t want to tell anybody in case it didn’t go down well," she said on Off the Ball's COYGIG Podcast. "Then I had to fake an injury because I didn't want to tell anyone I was pregnant until the 10-week scan. I felt that I had to go to training everyday because they were still paying me and I felt under pressure to be at the training ground every single day.”

“If a Sunday was to come and I couldn’t get childcare then I just can’t play that game. It comes down to whatever club you’re at. Like if you’re at an Arsenal or a Chelsea or a Man City and you’ve got loads of money, great facilities and that, having a baby there is not an issue at all but I think the lower down the league you go... it’s easier for club CEOs to be like ‘No, this isn’t happening.’"

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AND WHAT'S MORE: She added that she doesn't think "there is enough stuff in place to make women think ‘I could do it [have a baby]’.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Mukandi's pregnancy came before the Football Association introduced a maternity policy in the Women's Super League, but the Reading skipper also questioned that agreement.

“You only get 14 weeks full pay and you have to go back to work," she said. "If I was to have a kid now, I don’t think I’d be able to return 14 weeks after giving birth. Bearing in mind that your body is your job. So, who has even come up with that? Surely not someone who has played football and had a baby. Is that a man?”

WHAT NEXT? Neither Reading nor the Football Association has released a statement yet in reaction to Mukandi's comments. The Royals return to WSL action on Sunday, January 15, with a trip to Everton.