Former World Cup 2010 final referee Howard Webb has blown the final whistle on his marriage and is currently enjoying extra time with Bibiana Steinhaus.
Webb, 45, has moved abroad to live with Steinhaus, 37, after splitting with devoted wife Kay, 45, mum to his three teenage kids. He was photographed with Bibiana — the first female ref in German professional football — during a soccer tournament in Lower Saxony earlier this year. A local media report said at the time: “The reps of the three winning teams were surprised by the presence of Howard Webb.” But it was no surprise to Bibiana, who, like Webb, is a former police officer. A source said: “Howard is making no secret of his marriage split in football circles and it is not his style to hide away from things. He has been with Kay for years — since they were both quite young — but their relationship is now over. They are still close because they have three children together and he is a devoted dad. But Howard has been with Bibiana for a while, although it is very much early days for them. He loves being with her though and has now relocated to Germany where he is spending a lot of time. They met through football — and it is not hard to see what attracted Howard to her. She is blonde, beautiful and also a football ref — so they have a lot to talk about as Howard is so passionate about the sport and the role of referees.” As well as being the first professional female ref in Germany, Bibiana also officiated the women’s final at the London 2012 Olympics between Japan and the USA. A year earlier she took charge of the women’s World Cup Final. She also had a row with Man City boss Pep Guardiola during his time at Bayern Munich. And she once had her boob accidentally touched by Hertha Berlin defender Peter Niemeyer during a match.
Webb, who refereed the World Cup and Champions League finals in 2010, is currently promoting his autobiography, Man in the Middle. There is no mention in the book of his romance with Bibiana. But tellingly, he writes about his wife in the past tense as he says: “Success also comes at a price and can change people and circumstance, as Kay and I have both come to realise. Whatever the future holds, I want her to know that I’ll be personally grateful for the huge part she played in my life both personally and professionally.” They first met nearly 29 years ago while working in the Yorkshire Bank at his home town of Rotherham — and Webb was instantly attracted to his “vivacious” blonde colleague. He says: “My first day at work — Monday, 25 January 1988 — brought me into contact with my future wife, Kay, who was a member of the admin team. We wouldn’t become an item for another three years — she had a long-term boyfriend — but I remember being immediately drawn to this friendly, fun-loving and vivacious blonde who took this wet-behind-the-ears new boy under her wing”. The couple eventually tied the knot in 1995 and went on to have three children together. Webb also juggled his new job as a police officer with his burgeoning refereeing career — and admits his home life suffered as a result. He recalled: “We worked hard and played hard. If a match had gone well, we’d reward ourselves by piling back to someone’s room, cracking open the beers and chatting until the early hours. It was a charmed life, a self-centred life and I’d often experience a huge sense of anti-climax when I returned home.” In 2003, Webb feared he would miss the Division Two play-off final between QPR and Cardiff due to the overdue birth of their youngest daughter. He writes: “Our baby was due on the 11th but, ten days later, the stubborn little minx was still a no-show. However, a sympathetic obstetrician agreed to induce the birth, and she was born three days before the match. Panic over.” Later that year, Webb took charge of his first Premier League game and subsequently decided to take a sabbatical from South Yorkshire Police to focus on reffing. He became one of the best officials in the country but was often dogged by controversy, including accusations he regularly favoured Manchester United. He has admitted making a “mistake” giving United a vital penalty against Tottenham in April 2009 – which helped them win the league ahead of rivals Liverpool. In 2011, then United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was warned by the FA after making complimentary comments about Webb before a vital game with Chelsea. Webb’s wife also hit the headlines after her husband’s controversial handling of 2010’s bad-tempered World Cup Final between Spain and Holland. Kay said the next day: “I don’t know how he does it. He can’t take charge of his own children. I don’t know how he managed it on a football pitch.” Webb, who admits failing to send off Holland’s Nigel de Jong for a violent challenge in that game was his biggest error, welcomed Kay’s comments. He recalled: “I rang Kay to give her some gentle ribbing. She hadn’t seen that morning’s newspapers and was horrified they’d latched on to a seemingly throwaway remark. But I was fine with it, and I told her so. In fact it added some much-needed light relief to a pretty heavy-going press conference.”
Webb, whose father was also a ref, retired in 2014 after presiding over almost 1,000 matches. He declined to comment when approached by The Sun on Sunday. A Union Jack flag was flying in the garden of Bibiana’s family home in Bad Lauterberg. Contacted by Bild, Steinhaus confirmed that they are a couple. Webb’s wife, Kay, refused to comment at the family’s home in Rotherham. A friend said: “She doesn’t want to say anything at the moment. She’s getting the kids ready to go away.” In his new autobiography, Man in the Middle, former ref Howard Webb gushes over his wife Kay. But Webb, now a pundit after retiring in 2014, also reveals how his career affected life at home. The dad of three writes: “Without the wonderful support of Kay and our children, my successes would have been almost impossible to achieve. My family were patient with me when things went wrong and tolerated my subsequent mood swings. They accepted the many days spent away from home and understood when I had to miss important family events. They also helped me celebrate my career high points.” Webb, who has moved abroad to live with German ref Bibiana Steinhaus, also admits he struggled to adapt to home life after the adrenalin rush of top-flight refereeing. He reveals: “It was always great to be reunited with Kay and the kids but after a few days reality would take a grip and I would come crashing down to earth”.
Source: The Sun / Bild