Steinhaus to make Bundesliga history

It is confirmed: FIFA referee Bibiana Steinhaus will be the first woman to referee a Bundesliga match. The 38-year-old ex-policewoman from Hanover will oversee the match between Hertha BSC and SV Werder Bremen, on Sunday, in Berlin. Christof Günsch and Thomas Stein will be her assistants for the game, while the fourth official will be Robert Schröder and Harm Osmers will be the VAR.
The German football federation announced that the 38-year-old police officer is to take charge of Hertha Berlin's home game against Werder Bremen, confirming her place among the league's elite group of 24 referees. "She deserves it through her great performances," Bremen coach Alexander Nouri said. Hoffenheim's Julian Nagelsmann added, "I'm happy. It's all the same to me if a man or a woman is refereeing - the main thing is that they do the job well." Steinhaus has already spent a decade refereeing in Germany's second division and she has plenty of experience with many of the country's top stars from taking charge of German Cup games, too. Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has already showed she may be treated differently to her male colleagues when he played a trick on her during the side's cup tie at Chemnitzer FC in August. Ribery untied one of her bootlaces as he pretended to put the ball in place for a free kick. Steinhaus passed it off by giving Ribery a couple of playful punches in response, but it is debatable whether the French forward would have attempted the same trick had he been dealing with a male referee.
The daughter of a referee, Steinhaus began by officiating women's games for the DFB in 1999. She then became a FIFA referee in 2005 and earned her place in the second division in 2007, as the first female referee in German professional football. Steinhaus has handled women's World Cups and European Championships, along with the 2012 Olympic women's final between the United States and Japan. Last June, she took charge of the women's Champions League final between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain. The former swimmer will become the first female referee in any of Europe’s top five leagues and has worked with a fitness coach to make sure she can cope with the tempo of the Bundesliga. Steinhaus was in the headlines last year when it emerged she was in a relationship with former top referee Howard Webb. But she does not see herself as a trailblazer. “I never planned to break new grounds of emancipation,” she said at a referee’s training camp in July. “I am only doing what I love”. However, the 38-year-old police officer hopes to stay out of the headlines. “I don’t want any, then everything will have gone well”, she said in an interview before her appointment was announced. “My anticipation for the first game in the Bundesliga is, of course, huge”, said Steinhaus. “I am delighted that this great challenge, for my team and I, will finally get going,” she added having sat out the first two rounds of German league games this season. Male players have mostly treated Steinhaus with respect, but any incidents involving her receive greater attention. Defender Peter Niemeyer, who was playing for Hertha at the time, accidentally swiped her breast when he meant to pat her on the shoulder during a game in 2010. In 2015, after Steinhaus sent off Kerem Demirbay, the then-Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder reportedly told her: “Women have no place in men's football”, Demirbay was roundly criticized for the remark and handed a three-game ban with two further games suspended. Dusseldorf also made Demirbay referee a girls' game to ensure he understood the message. Demirbay apologized both publicly and to Steinhaus directly for his comment, and said he was "very happy that she accepted my apology". The two will likely meet again this season if Steinhaus takes charge of any games involving his current club, Hoffenheim.

Source: AP