Female referees in men’s football: ICYMI 1

Female Referees in Men’s Football: What has happened since May 7, 2021? Here is a summary of the most important events, inspirational quotes and links worth knowing.

Breaking News

Claudia Umpierrez

The long-time referee in Uruguay’s first men’s league said in an interview on Uruguayan television that she earns 12% less than her male colleagues. This is not fair, she said. The Uruguayan Football Federation (AUF) initially reacted by not considering her for any match since this incident. Court proceedings have been ongoing since May.

The Uruguayan Football Federation states: “FIFA has established salary categories for international female referees and in fact [they] are paid 12% less than international male referees. When Umpiérrez referees matches in the men’s tournament in Uruguay, she is paid the same as the other referees in the first category, but not as an international referee because she is not an international referee at men’s level.” (Source: Ovation Digital, Spanish)

Nevertheless, Umpierrez is appealing because she is not concerned with this one incident. She wants to raise awareness about unequal pay for women in football. She points to the situation of women in sport, as she understands that there are inequalities with respect to men. On May 21, she gave a talk at the Instituto Nacional de Inclusion Social Adolescente on gender equality in sport. She stated: Currently in Uruguay, “Sport is not for girls or for boys, sport is thought of as something masculine, but it shouldn’t be like that.” (Source: El Observador, Spanish)

On May 23, the four-match ban was upheld. The Court found the arguments put forward in favour of Equal Pay to be null and void. Of course, Claudia Umpierrez is continuing the fight, as it is not the four-game suspension that is at stake. So, the case was referred to the appeals court with the appeals of the parties.

Football Can Be More

In a German sports television programme on May 15 (ZDF), the Bundesliga referee Manuel Gräfe proposed Bibiana Steinhaus-Webb as the new president of the DFB (German Football Association). This position is currently vacant following a resignation. Steinhaus-Webb has already been popular as an emphatic mediator when she was a referee. She has not yet commented on this. It would be the first woman in this position. He probably knew about her engagement at that time, which became public four days later:

On May 19, an article was published in the German magazine Spiegel: A network of prominent women in football business calls for far-reaching changes in the DFB. Steinhaus-Webb is one of them. The network demands in its position paper „Football can (be) more“. Another woman in this network, Katja Kraus (former board member of the football club Hamburger SV), is considering her candidacy. Actually, she has no ambitions, but also sees: If I demand change, then I have to take responsibility and lead the way. (Source: Der Spiegel, German)

I support this initiative. (The text is called: Football can be more.)

First All Female Teams in North and South America

On May 19, for the first time, a match official team of four women officiated a competition in CONCACAF men’s football. In this case it was a club competition, namely the Caribbean Club Championship 2021. The referee was Tori Penso (USA), her assistants were Karen Diaz (Mexico) and Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing (Jamaica) and the 4th official was Francia Gonzalez (Mexico).The referee assessor was also a woman: Dianne Ferreira-James. She refereed matches in the Guyana Men’s 1st Division from 1998 to 2012.

But that was not all: a few days later, on May 27, there was a match in a CONMEBOL competition with five(!) female match officials for the first time. For a match at the Copa Libertadores, a club competition, the match is officiated by Edina Alves Batista (Brazil). Her assistants are Neuza Back (Brazil) and Cindy Nahuelcoy (Chile), plus Maria Belen Carvajal (Chile) as 4th official and Ana Paula Oliveira (Brazil) as VAR. In this case, too, the referee assessor is a woman, Sabrina Lois (Argentina).


More News

Mixed Gender Team in the Netherlands

On May 11, the Dutch Football Association KNVB announced that there will no longer be a separation of the sexes in amateur football. Up to the Tweede Liga (third division), all teams can be mixed gender. The restriction to youth football will be lifted.

Other countries, such as Germany, have taken up this proposal and are considering introducing it for amateur football in their country.

Maria Marotta: First female referee in Italian’s 2nd men’s division (Serie B)

Maria Marotta has been appointed in the Italian Serie B since 2019, but so far only as 4th official. Now, on May 10, her first assignment as referee is imminent.

But that’s not the only thing worth knowing about this game, as she will be assisted by a woman on the side: Francesca di Monte has been an assistant referee in Serie B since October 17, 2020. (By the way, Marotta and di Monte were together assistants in the outstanding UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final match between Chelsea and Bayern Munich.) It’s the first match with two female match officials in Italian’s professional men’s football.

„At the end of the match, Marotta received a Reggina jersey signed by the coaches of both teams, Marco Baroni and Fabio Grosso, with the number 1 and his surname on the back.“ (Source: ANSA Latina, Italian)

Two days later, she talked about her experiences and impressions in an interview. (Source: RTL 102,5, Italian)

Yoshimi Yamashita: First female referee in Japan’s 3rd men’s division (J3)

There was also news in Japan: On May 16, referee Yoshimi Yamashita became the first woman in the semi-professional J3 league.  This is curious: she already refereed a match in the AFC Cup in 2019.

Sonia Zomandré: First female referee in Côte d’Ivoire’s 1st men’s division (Ligue 1)

In Côte d’Ivoire, on May 23, for the first time a woman was in charge of a match in the 1st division of men’s football: Sonia Zomandré. (Source: 7 Culture, French)
⚠️ Unfortunately, I can’t find any more information about her. Can anyone support me?


Some more dates


  • May 24: Geburtstag Shona Shukrula (* 1991)
  • May 26: Geburtstag Ana Paula Oliveira (* 1978),

On this day…

  • May 10, 2014: Kylie Cockburn’s first appointment as assistant referee in the Scottish Professional Football League as first match official
  • May 10, 1981: Betty Ellis’ first appointment as 4th official in the NASL (USA) ->  first female match official in a first men’s division in CONCACAF
  • May 11, 2019: Maria Marotta’s first appointment as 4th official in the Italian Serie B
  • May 11, 2003: María Isabelle Tovar’s first appointment as assistant referee in the Mexican Liga MX
  • May 13, 2019: First all female team with four women in the Canadian Premier League: Carol Anne Chenard (referee), Chantal Boudreau & Stéphanie Fortin (assistant referees), Alexis Vaughan (4th official)
  • May 14, 2019: First all female team with three women in the AFC Cup: Yoshimi Yamashita (referee), Makoto Bozono & Naomi Teshirogi (assistant referees)
  • May 16, 1981: Betty Ellis’ first appointment as referee in the NASL (USA) as first female match official in a first men’s division in CONCACAF
  • May 18, 2020: Désirée Grundbacher’s first appointment as referee in the Swiss Challenge League. Exact one year before it was her first appointment in the Promotions League (3rd division).
  • May 22, 2011: Sian Massey-Ellis’ first appointment as assistant referee in the English Premier League
  • May 26, 2019: Melissa Paola Borjas Pastrana’s first appointment as referee in the league final in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional de Honduras -> first female match official in the final
  • May 27, 2017: Fatiha Jarmouni’s first appointment as assistant referee in the Moroccan Botola Pro 1


What do you say

One of my goals and dreams has now finally come true! For the first time ever we now have women referees receiving appointments for men’s football from every confederation in the world. Thank you AFC CAF CONCACAF CONMEBOL OFC & UEFA for putting quality first. #reachhighter”
(Kari Seitz)

“Football is a school for understanding patriarchal masculinity and learning how to respond to it – and how to embarrass it.”
(Almut Suelzle)

“I started as a soccer player but I couldnt make it out of my small town. When I heard South Africa are looking for a female referee, I took the opportunity never to run of sport.”
(Akhona Makalima)

“As a player, I would never have reached a Women’s CL final or been involved at such a high level at the age of 40, but refereeing has given me the opportunity to play this important role in big matches – I feel very privileged.”
(Riem Hussein)

“This whole notion that women are from Venus, men are from Mars… I’m sure we are in some ways in our personalities, but I don’t know why the world thinks we play two different sports. It’s just bonkers to me to think we are in a profession where we don’t have any diversity. That part of it is bonkers. I’d be interested to know which professions still exists which are so homogenous. I’m not sure they do exist. It will be a big jump for someone when that happens (a woman manages a men’s team) but what I do know is that how you win a football match, regardless of the gender, is exactly the same thing.”
(Emma Hayes)


Sharable Links

Her Game Too – Twitter campaign from England to raise awareness on sexism in football against women

Trainingground Guru: Emma Hayes and the performance imperative for women in football

Diario Deavisos: Marta Huerta, árbitra: “No quiero ni pensarlo cuando me tenga que alejar de mi hija, porque al principio me costará estar lejos de Ella”
[Marta Huerta, referee: “I don’t even want to think about it when I have to be away from my daughter, because at first it will be difficult to be away from her.”]

UEFA: Women in football: five leaders making an impact



Petra Tabarelli: All female teams in men’s top football

Petra Tabarelli: Female referees in football – All in top men’s football

Petra Tabarelli: Female referee milestones – in men’s top football