NEW DELHI/ZURICH: Esther Staubli of Switzerland is about to make history as the first European woman to referee a match in a FIFA men’s tournament.
The 38-year-old from Bern has been appointed to refereee Saturday’s match between Japan and New Caledonia in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 in Kolkata.
Staubli is one of seven women referees at U-17 World Cup where all the male and female match officials, nominated by FIFA’s referees committee, have completed a host of activities together in a series of seminars, including theoretical sessions in the classroom and practical sessions on the field of play.
The only previous woman to referee a men’s competition match was South Korea’s Im Eun-Ju, also at the FIFA U17 World Cup, in Trinidad & Tobago in 2001.
A FIFA statement said: “The benefits of joining forces are mutual when men and women team up to hone their interpretation, positioning and decision-making abilities. Another positive aspect is that the women referees have an opportunity to gain more experience.
“High-level competition matches are often limited during the year in their respective regions and so such opportunities are crucial as the referees prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.
“In having the opportunity to now work together with their male colleagues at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, FIFA’s female referees are one step further in their preparation and in their careers at the top level.”
Staubli refereed at the last Women’s World Cup and Olympic Games as well as the 2017 UEFA Women’s Champions League final.
The list with the 21 trios of match officials appointed for the FIFA U-17 World Cup is available here.