Top 10 Female Football Referees in the World
In soccer, a referee plays an important role in making or breaking a game, just like in case of most team games. The referee is in charge of enforcing the Laws if Game during the match. As the final decision-maker of the game in association with all that is connected with the play, a referee is the only official on the ground. It is the referee who has the authority to start the play and stop it, and impose disciplinary action against the players. While a vast majority of referees are men, women have also started showing the knowledge and understanding of the sport to become referees. There are some great female referees in the world of sports today. Let us take a look at the Top 10 Female Football Referees in the World and read about the part they had to play in some memorable games.
Top 10 Female Football Referees in the World
1. Wendy Toms
Former English football referee Wendy Toms was born on 16 October 1962 in Broadstone, Dorset, and was inducted in the list of FIFA women’s international list. She is the first referee to officiate the Football League and the Premier League as an assistant referee, and became the first female official to achieve such feat. Wendy was named as the assistant referee at the Football League for the 1994-95 season, and later became a referee in the Football Conference in the 1997-98 season. She had officiated her first Conference match between Kidderminster and Nuneaton Borough on that season. Wendy then became the first female ever to be named as an assistant referee in the Premier League in the following year. She refereed the UEFA Women’s Cup quarter-final on 30 October 2003, and then the UEFA Women’s Championship in England in 2005.
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2. Amy Fearn
English football referee Amy Elizabeth Fearn was born on 20 November 1977 in Loughborough, Leicestershire, and became the first woman official to referee in The Football League in 2010. She started her refereeing career at the age of 14, and eventually became the second only female official to be named as an assistant referee in English professional football. Amy became the first ever female referee to act as the main referee in a Football League match on 9 February 2010. She had a full-time career in accountancy and later included in the FIFA assistant Referees’ list in 2005. Amy became the first female match referee of a Football League after the original referee Tony Bates suffered a calf strain on 9 February 2010 where Amy took over for the last 20 minutes of the match. She became the first female referee in a FA Cup Game in the Main Draw in 2013.
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3. Bibiana Steinhaus
German football referee Bibiana Steinhaus was born on 24 March 1979 in Bad Lauterberg, and was the first female referee in German professional football league. She was first chose to officiate in the Regionalliga and eventually became a professional referee in the Women’s Bundesliga in 1999. Steinhaus acted as the main referee of the Women’s DFB-Pokal final between 1. FFC Frankfurt and FCR 2001 Duisburg in 2002–03 season. She was then selected as an official for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2008, UEFA Women’s Euro in 2009 and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2010. She was listed among the 16 referees for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup on 15 April 2011 and successfully officiated the final between Japan and United States. Steinhaus also refereed the women’s football gold medal match again between Japan and United States in the 2012 London Olympics.
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4. Kari Seitz
American professional soccer referee Kari Seitz was born on November 2, 1970, and is widely regarded as one of the most experienced female referees of all time. She was named as an official in three Olympic soccer tournaments i.e. 2004 Athens Olympics, 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics, and four FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 thus becoming the only official ever to achieve such feat. She acted as a match official for the last 28 years which includes 14 years of international career. Seitz, about her own career, stated “It was less of a decision and more of an obligation. My youth coach in 1985 required everyone on the team to become a referee in order to better understand the laws and the game itself.” Kari Seitz recently announced her retirement from international soccer in October 2013.
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5. Sian Massey-Ellis
English football referee Sian Louise Massey-Ellis was born in October 1985, and currently officiates in the Premier League and the Football League as an assistant referee. She also refereed several matches of the Football League Trophy, UEFA Women’s Champions League and FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification rounds. Sian was included in the FIFA list of women assistant referees in 2010. She first became the fourth official of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying match between England and Austria on 20 April 2006, then acted as an assistant referee in an international friendly between England and Denmark in September 2007. She is also a part of the match officials at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2009 in qualification stage. Sian refereed three matches in the qualification stage for the Women’s World Cup in 2011.
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6. Jacqui Melksham
Australian female soccer referee Jacqui Melksham was born on 12 October 1978 in Australia and is regarded by many as one of the best female referees in the world. She also works as a graphic designer besides her international career as a soccer match official. She currently lives in Murarrie, Queensland, and is now included in the list of FIFA Match Officials. Jacqui officiated the opening match of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup between Germany and Canada at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on 26 June 2011. She was then selected as the match official in the quarterfinal between Brazil and the United States at the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion in Dresden on 10 July 2011 for the same international event. Ray Ratto stated she had a ‘bad day at the office’ when many media persons thought Melksham did not call the U.S.-Brazil international game well.
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7. Sandra Hunt
Former American soccer referee Sandra Hunt was born on June 14, 1959, and acted as a FIFA enlisted referee between 1999 and 2004. She served her duty as a match official in the FIFA Women’s World Cup twice in 1999 and 2003, and had officiated matches at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Sandra currently lives is Bellingham, Washington, and currently works for Professional Referee Organization as a referee coach. She became one of the first two women beside Nancy Lay to officiate in Major League Soccer matches in August 1998. She later also acted as a match official of the Women’s United Soccer Association. Sandra was included in the FIFA-sanctioned referee list as a representative of the United States in 1999. She took the role as an instructor-assessor at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in 2004.
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8. Jenny Palmqvist
South Korean-born Swedish soccer referee Jenny Palmqvist was born on 2 November 1969, and acted as a match official for several major women’s soccer matches at domestic and international level. She has officiated the final of the 2004 Summer Olympics tournament and the final of the UEFA Champions Leagues twice in 2009 and 2012. She showed the only red card on the tournament to North Korea’s Choe Mi-gyong in a match between United States and North Korea at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Palmqvist also assigned the first penalty of the tournament in the opening match of 2012 Olympics between Brazil and Cameroon. She acted as the match official in the quarterfinal between Germany and Italy in the European Championship in 2009. Palmqvist refereed the final between The Olympique Lyon and Frankfurt at the 2012 UEFA Champions League.
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9. Dagmar Damková
Czech football referee Dagmar Damková was born on 29 December 1974, and is listed as an international referee since 1999. She made her debut as a match official in a game between Belarus and Moldova on 17 April 1999. Damková is the first woman to referee in the Gambrinus liga. She successfully refereed finals of the 2008 Olympics, the UEFA Women’s Euro 2009 and also the final match of the 2011 UEFA Women’s Champions League. She was also acted as a match official of three games at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, and became the first Czech woman to achieve such feat. Damková was also listed as an official at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. She refereed her last match on 7 August 2011 in a game between Mladá Boleslav and Slovácko at the Gambrinus liga.
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10. Kirsi Heikkinen
Finnish women’s football referee Kirsi Heikkinen was born on 26 September 1978, and is considered as one of the most experienced female football referees in the world. She acted as a match official in several major international tournaments which include the 2009 European Championship, the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Summer Olympics. She also became a part of the 2010 U–17 World Cup and the 2010 Algarve Cup, and also refereed the final of the Champions League in 2010. Heikkinen refereed three matches of the World Cup’s UEFA qualifier and three more matches in the final tournament in 2011. She was included as a match official of the Champions League twice consecutively in 2012 and 2013. Heikkinen is known as a strict referee on the international matches while showing several cards in her referring career.
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These women have walked into a field that has, for ages, been reserved primarily for men. A female soccer referee might still be an unlikely sight, even today. Yet, they are refereeing matches played by male soccer players, and they won’t stop until they become a common sight on the fields.