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German policewoman to become first female referee in Europe’s top-flight leagues

Bibiana Steinhaus is all set to become the first female referee to officiate a match in Europe’s top leagues next season.

football Updated: May 21, 2017 19:18 IST
Bibiana Steinhaus,Bundesliga,Bundesliga Referee
Bibiana Steinhaus has been a fourth official for Bundesliga matches in the past.(AP)

A 38-year-old German policewoman will next season become the first female referee in Europe’s top leagues after she was promoted to officiate in the Bundesliga on Friday.

Bibiana Steinhaus has been a fourth official for Bundesliga matches and although a German FA (DFB) referee since 1999, knows the spotlight will be on her when she takes charge of a top-flight game.

“For every referee, whether a man or a woman, it is always a big goal to be able to blow a whistle in the Bundesliga,” she told

Steinhaus, girlfriend of Englishman Howard Webb, 45, who refereed the 2014 World Cup final, said: “I have worked very hard for this in the last few years and suffered a few set-backs.

“Of course, I am aware that I will be the first female referee in the Bundesliga and will be closely watched by the media and the public,” she added, having refereed 80 second-division games since 2007.

“I am used to this pressure and am convinced I will find my feet quickly in the Bundesliga.”

Steinhaus made headlines in October 2014 when then Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola put his arm around her shoulders, when she was the fourth official at a Bundesliga game, while arguing about a refereeing decision.

Steinhaus coolly brushed Guardiola’s arm off and the Spaniard was criticised in the German media for inappropriate conduct.

Bibiana Steinhaus (2nd R) of Germany shows a red card to Azusa Iwashimizu (2nd L) of Japan during the Women's World Cup final match against United States. (REUTERS)

And in December 2015 during a second-division game she sent off Kerem Demirbay for a second booking.

The then-Fortuna Duesseldorf midfielder was banned for five games for telling Steinhaus that “women have no place in men’s football” as he trudged off.

As a further punishment, his club made Demirbay, who now plays for Hoffenheim, referee a girl’s football match.

Steinhaus will referee the women’s Champions League final in Cardiff on June 1 and is one of four referees who have been promoted to the list of Bundesliga referees for 2017/18.

She will be the first female referee in Europe’s top five leagues.

DFB president Reinhard Grindel hopes Steinhaus will inspire girls to get involved in football.

“I’ve been following her path for many years and am very much looking forward to it,” he said.

First Published: May 20, 2017 00:32 IST