Bibiana Steinhaus debuts as first female referee in Germany’s premier soccer association

A 38-year-old former police officer has made history as the first woman to officiate a soccer match in any of Europe’s top soccer leagues. On Sunday, September 10, Bibiana Steinhaus oversaw the first Bundesliga match refereed by a female.

According to a Bundesliga news release, she handed out a single yellow card in the 1-1 draw between Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen.

The historic occasion played out in a historic location — Berlin’s Olympiastadion which was built in 1936. That year, track & field athlete Jessie Owens became the first American to win four Gold medals at a single Olympic games. With a capacity of more than 74 thousand, Olympiastadion has also hosted the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women’s World Cup, and even Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI .

In an interview with Hertha Berlin’s club website,, Steinhaus said this wasn’t unfamiliar turf.

“In general, I have very good memories of the Olympiastadion, as I have already officiated a few games here in the past. In particular, the women’s DFB-Pokal final between Frankfurt and Duisburg in 2003. I’m looking forward to returning to the Olympiastadion in the Bundesliga.”

Before receiving the promotion earlier this year, Steinhaus had refereed almost 250 matches in Bundesliga 2, the league’s second tier, and officiated at the 2012, reported.

“On one hand it is confirmation of my hard work, and on the other hand it is a great incentive to continue to work hard,” she told DFB, the sport’s governing body in Germany.

Adding a female referee isn’t the only change for Bundesliga, which is now in its 55th year. This season, officials will be able to utilize video replays in decision-making during matches. Another rule requires stadiums to ensure that each seat is covered from the elements.

Lane Luckie, a news anchor and reporter for KLTV in Tyler, Texas, is traveling in Germany and Belgium as part of a fellowship with the RIAS Berlin Commission. The bi-national journalist exchange, which is a partnership with the Radio Television Digital News Foundation, was established in 1992 to promote understanding between the United States and Germany in the field of broadcasting. Click here to learn more.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KLTV/KTRE-TV or Raycom Media.  They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2017 Lane Luckie


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