Ger­man po­lice­woman is first top-flight fe­male ref

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BER­LIN: 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 pre­vi­ously been a fourth of­fi­cial for Bun­desliga matches and although a Ger­man FA (DFB) ref­eree since 1999, she 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 whis­tle in the Bun­desliga,” she told DFB.de.

Bib­iana, girl­friend of English­man Howard Webb, 45, who ref­er­eed the 2010 World Cup fi­nal, said: “I have worked very hard for this in the last few years and suf­fered a few set-backs.

“I was quite speech­less when I got the call. On one hand it was con­fir­ma­tion af­ter all the hard work, but also a great in­cen­tive to keep work­ing.

“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.

“I don’t seek out pub­lic at­ten­tion and my col­leagues know me well enough to know that.”

Her role as a po­lice of­fi­cer means Bib­iana is well used to giv­ing clear in­struc­tions in a nonon­sense man­ner.

“My style dur­ing a game is char­ac­terised by in­ten­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” she said.

“I like to give an early in­di­ca­tion of what I ex­pect and set the play­ers good guide­lines.”

Bib­iana 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.

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

“Af­ter all, it was not just any­one but the star coach of FC Bay­ern,” said former world-class ref­eree Urs Meier at the time.

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 Bib­iana 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.

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

She also ref­er­eed the 2011 women’s World Cup fi­nal and the women’s 2012 Olympic fi­nal in Lon­don.

DFB pres­i­dent Rein­hard Grindel hopes Bib­iana 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. AFP

REUTERS PIC

Bib­iana Stein­haus has been a Ger­man FA ref­eree since 1999.

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