For ten years already, bibiana steinhaus has been working in the 2. The 38-year-old referee is under special scrutiny as she makes her debut in the top flight of soccer.
"Whether it’s historic is for others to judge," steinhaus told the bild newspaper. No rude macho remarks from professional players and coaches. Hosts hertha, however, used steinhaus’ debut for a PR campaign that could suggest that women actually come to the olympiastadion because of a female referee and not because of the match against werder bremen.
The first 250 female visitors to the hertha game pay a 50 percent discount on the price of admission. Berlin officials expect 50,000 spectators. Hertha coach pal dardai is looking forward to the premiere of the impartial: "she deserved it, she whistled flawlessly".
Steinhaus herself knows exactly that she will be the center of attention for the first time at this game – and, depending on how the game goes, will also be viewed particularly critically. "On the one hand, it’s just another game that i liked to manage well. On the other hand, it is now the bundesliga and the fact that I am the first female referee makes it an unusual game, especially for the public," the police officer explained.
Steinhaus is not, however, the first woman to referee a first division match in europe. Nicole petignat was an impartial referee in the swiss first division between 1999 and 2008, and even played in the UEFA cup. "She put in excellent performances and had to step up much earlier," petignat said of her colleague in an interview with "fubball-bild". "But germany’s ref bosses were against women, were against her. The leaders have reservations, are perhaps even jealous."
Steinhaus, whose life’s risk is former english top referee howard webb, was asked to join the circle of 24 bundesliga referees in may. "I hoard the words, the belief alone took a moment to sink in," she recalled of that long-awaited moment. The reaction afterwards was "overwhelmingly positive".
Steinhaus has officiated in 80 second-division matches, at the women’s world championships in 2011 and 2015, and at the 2012 olympics. And with her composure, for example as the fourth official on the sidelines when the coaches once again raged around her. She demonstrated her sovereignty most recently when franck ribery plucked her whiskers at the FC bayern cup match in chemnitz. The cheeky frenchman was lucky and got off without a warning.
"We are used to dancing to the tune of a woman at home," joked bremen’s coach alexander nouri before steinhaus’ debut. "Seriously: she has earned it. Through very good performances – and that is decisive in the end."Hoffenheim coach julian nagelmann is pleased about steinhaus’ promotion: "gender in itself is not a sign of quality. Even if we sometimes hope that this is the case when we are driving a car."