RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s top female match official is set for a return to the top division after being dropped in May.

Fernanda Colombo Uliana, 23, was relegated back to second and third division duties after a number of high-profile mistakes.

In focus: Brazilian referee assistant Fernanda

The CBF’s refereeing commission president Sergio Correa said: “She is in the process of gaining more experience in Series B and C but there is nothing preventing him from returning to Serie A”.

In mid-May Fernanda was heavily criticised for a mistaken offside judgment in the Mineiro derby between Cruzeiro and Atletico. Afterwards Cruzeiro director Alexandre Mattos said: “If she’s pretty then let her pose for Playboy; you need to know the job to be in football.” He later apologised for comments “in the heat of the moment.”

Fernanda’s training since then has included sessions with the CBF psychologist Marta Souza Magalhães. However she has complained that she came in for particular criticism because of her sex.

Fernanda said: “Partly, the mistakes I made were overplayed because I’m a woman. OK, I’m new and we all make mistakes but there are too many sexist comments in football.”

Some colleagues think that Fernanda was promoted too quickly precisely because she is a woman. At 18 she was refereeing amateur games de Santa Catarina and has moved up to national status in the succeeding five years – one of only 89 women among 613 referees, assistants, assessors and match delegates.