Bibiana Steinhaus is breaking glass ceilings in European soccer. (Matthias Schrader/AP)
Bibiana Steinhaus has officiated men’s soccer matches before in Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga, but always as an assistant on the sidelines. Beginning next year, however, she’ll step into the main role, becoming the league’s first female referee to take charge on the field.
“I was quite speechless when I got the call,” the 38-year-old told the league’s website DFB.de after she and three men were promoted.
“On one hand it was confirmation after all the hard work, but also a great incentive to keep working,” she added. “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.”
Steinhaus, who also officiated the 2015 women’s World Cup final between the United States and Japan, isn’t just breaking the glass ceiling in Germany, but it appears in all of European top-flight soccer. According to Newsweek, neither the Premier League or Spain’s La Liga have ever allowed a woman to act as the main referee, who unlike in other sports is the sole official on the field of play during a match.
Having refereed 80 second-tier games in Germany already, Steinhaus understands the challenge. While 79 of those games went off without a hitch, there was one that caused a stir when a player Steinhaus sent off for his second yellow card angrily told her, “Women have no place in men’s football.”
The player, Kerem Demirbay, was roundly criticized for his remark and banned five games by the league. Meanwhile, the team Demirbay played on at the time, Fortuna Düsseldorf, made the player officiate a girls’ game as a learning experience.
Steinhaus also confronted sexism the year prior while she was assisting during a Bundesliga bout between Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Upset about his team’s lackluster performance, Bayern’s then-Manager Pep Guardiola exchanged words with Steinhaus on the sideline before attempting to put his arm around her. Steinhaus coolly brushed him off, while German media heavily criticized the Spaniard, who now manages Manchester City.
Steinhaus, who works as a police officer in Hamburg and is known for her clear, communicative officiating style, isn’t worried about running into any potentially sexist situations next season, however.
“I am used to this pressure and am convinced I will find my feet quickly in the Bundesliga,” she said. “My goal is for female referees in professional soccer to become commonplace. … I hope that this news will have a positive impact on other female referees, or any woman who wants to become one.”
Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/05/19/once-told-women-have-no-place-in-mens-soccer-german-woman-named-top-leagues-first-female-referee/