Bibiana Steinhaus//photo courtesy

By: Robert C. McDermott, Contributing Writer

Bibiana Steinhaus recently made history by becoming the first female referee in Germany’s most prestigious soccer league, the Bundesliga.

The German 38-year-old referee and police officer was praised in her first professional match on September 10, 2017 after she saw out the (1-1) draw between Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin. Although Steinhaus didn’t want attention drawn to herself, the news of her being the first female referee in any major European league gave her fame in the soccer community.

Hertha Berlin even offered 500 free tickets exclusively for women to attend the match.

“We want to offer all women a chance to experience this historic moment,” said Hertha Berlin on their website.

Steinhaus was pleased that she was picked to watch over the match, but insists it has nothing to do with her gender.

“Firstly, I’m a Bundesliga referee because my performances have been good enough, not because I’m a woman. That’s a big difference. If, because of that, I am considered a role model for young girls or a pioneer for equality, then that makes me even happier,” said Steinhaus in an exclusive interview with Hertha.

While there have been times that women have refereed soccer matches in the United States, none have taken the position as the center referee. This would give them more control in decision making when judging the match. Every woman who has been a referee in Major League Soccer, the highest professional league in the United States, has been an assistant referee.

Bergen Community College men’s soccer has had female line refs in two of their last matches. Jorge Hernandez, the athletic director at BCC, was pleased to see women ref in a sport mostly dominated by men.

“As long as they are able to work hard and do a great job, I think it’s wonderful,” said Hernandez after the BCC Bulldogs men’s soccer team (8-0) win against Passaic Community College.

With more of the 2017-18 season left to go, it may only be a matter of time until we see another center female referee take the responsibility of judging one of the most beautiful sports in the world.