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Historic: Bibiana Steinhaus to become Bundesliga’s first woman referee


Bibiana Steinhaus will be officiating in the Bundesliga starting the 2017/18 season to become the first female referee to do so in German football history. The 38 year old police officer from Hannover is one of four new referees who made the cut for the final list of referees for the new season confirmed by the presidium of the German FA, the Deutscher Fußball-Bund (DFB), at its meeting today. Bundesliga 2 referees Martin Petersen (32/Stuttgart), Sven Jablonski (27/Bremen) and Sören Storks (28/Velen) are the three other referees who gained a promotion to the top flight. Wolfgang Stark, Günter Perl and Dr. Joachim Drees will be retiring at the end of the on-going 2016/17 season, as the number of Bundesliga referees will increase to 24.

“It is the ultimate goal for every referee, no matter if male or female, to officiate in the Bundesliga. I’ve worked very hard in the past and I did also suffer a few setbacks. Hence I’m delighted to receive the faith from the Referee’s Committee, which shows that the merit principle does also apply to refereeing,” said Bibiana Steinhaus. “I’m fully aware of the fact that I will be in the focus of the public and media at the beginning of the new Bundesliga season. I’m used to this pressure and therefore I’m fully confident that I will be able to establish myself in the Bundesliga,” the FIFA Referee added.

DFB President Reinhard Grindel congratulated Bibiana Steinhaus, who will be officiating the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final in Cardiff on June 1. “I’m tracing her progress for many years and I personally feel very happy for her. Furthermore I pay my compliments to the Referee’s Committee, who expose that consistent work and continuous output in the field of refereeing pay out regardless of gender. Hopefully the first female referee in the Bundesliga will be an incentive for young girls in our country to try to equal her achievement.”

“Bibiana Steinhaus is one of the world’s best women referees for many years and she has proved through her consistent performances in the Bundesliga 2 that she belongs to the top referees in the Germany. Moving to the first division is certainly a big step, but the same applies for all referees. This is why she and the three other novices will be receiving full support from the DFB, so they will be able to deliver excellent officiating in the top flight from the beginning,” said DFB Vice-President Ronny Zimmerman, who is also in charge of refereeing.

Lutz Michael Fröhlich, Chairman of the Referee’s Committee, said: “We have always stated that the assessment of our referees is primarily based on a constantly good officiating over a number of seasons. Bibiana has furnished proof of her abilities and that’s why she and the other three referees deserve their promotion. She has a special and very successful way of officiating, which is highly respected by the players, coaches and club officials. It will be same in the Bundesliga.”

Bibiana Steinhaus has become a DFB referee in 1999 and she has officiated 80 matches in Bundesliga 2 since 2007. Some of her personal career highlights include appointments at the FIFA Women’s Cup (2011 & 2015) and the London Olympics in 2012.