KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- History will be made in the Bundesliga on Sunday when Bibiana Steinhaus becomes the first female referee appointed to a match in the senior German league.
Promotion for the 38-year-old Hanover police officer was announced before she officiated at the UEFA European Women’s Championship finals in Holland in July. The only surprise was that it took the German DFB so long to recognise her refereeing qualities.
Steinhaus makes her senior debut, after officiating in the third and second divisions over the past month, in Hertha Berlin’s home game against Werder Bremen.
Hertha have sought to both celebrate and cash in on the occasion by offering a 50pc ticket reduction to female fans “to experience this historic moment at first hand.”
Steinhaus, who has taken the role of fourth official previously in the Bundesliga, has welcomed the promotion as fulfilling a lifetime dream.
In the lower divisions she had to deal with deliberately insulting and provocative gestures by male players.
Her ability to withstand the pressure was famously evidenced in a incident with the then Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola during a 0-0 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in October 2014.
Steinhaus was fourth referee when Guardiola protested at Borussia time-wasting. When she rebuffed his complaint he stormed off, applauding sarcastically.
Guardiola then had second thoughts, returning to Steinhaus to apologise and patronisingly put an arm around her shoulder – which she dismissively shrugged off.
Steinhaus had followed her father into refereeing and became a women’s league official in 1999. In 2003 she refereed the German women’s cup final and started officiating in the men’s second division in 2007, the first woman to do so.
Her international career included FIFA and UEFA age group tournaments rising to the 2011 Women’s World Cup final between Japan and the United States and then the 2012 Olympic women’s gold medal final between the same opponents at Wembley.
Steinhaus, partner of England’s former men’s World Cup Final official Howard Webb, was appointed to this year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League Final in Cardiff between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain. She also refereed at the subsequent European Women’s Championship.