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Steinhaus to referee first Bundesliga match on Sunday

September 7, 2017

Bibiana Steinhaus is set to make history by becoming the first woman to referee a match in any of Europe's top leagues. Steinhaus is to take charge of her first Bundesliga game in Berlin's Olympic Stadium on the weekend.

12. Bildergalerie erste Schiedsrichterin in der Geschichte der 1. Bundesliga
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Hitij

The German football association (DFB) confirmed in a statement posted on its website on Thursday that Bibiana Steinhaus, 38, is to referee the match between Hertha and Werder Bremen at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Sunday. The news had been broken by the mass-circulation Bild newspaper earlier in the week.

In the DFB statement, Steinhaus said she was looking forward to her first match in charge.

"I am pleased that this great challenge for me and my team finally begins on Sunday," she said. "We are definitely well prepared for it."

Positive reaction

The inclusion of Steinhaus in the list of officials eligible to referee Bundesliga games was generally received positively when it was released back in May, and the initial reactions to Thursday's news were similar.

"She has earned it through very good performances – and in the end that is the most important thing," Bremen coach Alexander Nouri said in his press conference.

2. Bildergalerie erste Schiedsrichterin in der Geschichte der 1. Bundesliga
Steinhaus has a wealth of experience from the top levels of the women's gameImage: picture-alliance/dpa/BELGA/D. Catry

Although his team won't be involved in this little piece of history, Hoffenheim's coach was also asked at his press conference to comment on the development. Julian Nagelsmann agreed that Steinhaus had earned her chance to referee in the Bundesliga.

"I don't care if the referee is a woman or a man," he said. The main thing is that they do their job well."

Vast experience

Steinhaus certainly has paid her dues before getting this opportunity, having been a referee for 18 years, first officiating in Germany's top women's division, the Frauen-Bundesliga, in 1999. The police officer by trade, whose father was also a referee, began refereeing in the men's second division in 2007, becoming the first female to referee a professional men's match in Germany.

She also has extensive international experience having refereed the final of the 2011 Women's World Cup and the final of the women's tournament at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The strength of the German team has sometimes prevented her from going beyond a quarterfinal appearance.

Last May, UEFA, football's governing body in Europe, appointed Steinhaus to referee the Women's Champions League final between French sides Olympique Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain – as this was the first time in the history of the tournament that a German team had not reached the final.

On Sunday she is to become the first woman to referee in the Bundesliga – or in any of Europe's other top leagues: the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A or Ligue 1.