Berlin, Germany | AFP | Hertha Berlin are offering women half-price tickets for Sunday’s German league match against Werder Bremen with Bibiana Steinhaus set to make history as the first female referee in a top European league.
The German Football Association (DFB) have confirmed the 38-year-old will take charge of the Bundesliga clash at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium to become the first female ref in the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish leagues.
Hertha are offering up to 500 “Bibi-Steinhaus-tickets”, only available to women, at half-price.
“We want to offer all women the chance to experience this historic moment,” said a statement on the Hertha website.
Steinhaus has been refereeing since 2007 and earned her right to whistle in Germany’s top flight after officiating the women’s Champions League final this year and the 2012 women’s Olympic tournament final in London.
The police officer has already proven she can handle Bundesliga stars.
As an assistant referee, she shrugged off an attempted hug by ex-Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola during a pitchside exchange in 2014.
— Hertha Berlin (@HerthaBSC_EN) September 7, 2017
Last month, she bantered with Franck Ribery after the French winger cheekily untied her shoelaces while preparing for a free-kick when she officiated a German Cup first-round match.
“For me and my referee colleagues, the fact that I am a woman hasn’t been an issue for a long time,” Steinhaus said on the Hertha website.
“But we probably all need to accept and deal with the fact that it will continue to be considered a big deal in the media for now.”
Steinhaus insists she has earned the chance to referee in Germany’s top tier on merit, but accepts she is now a role model.
“I’m a Bundesliga referee because my performances have been good enough, not because I’m a woman,” she said
“That’s a big difference.
— Hertha Berlin (@HerthaBSC_EN) September 8, 2017
“If, because of that, I am considered a role model for young girls or a pioneer for equality, then that makes me even happier.
“I have a lot of experience now, which is an advantage in many situations.
I have different ways of dealing with and reacting to certain situations in the game now.
“On top of that, I have also overseen many games as a fourth official, in order to take in the pace of the Bundesliga.”
Both Bremen and Berlin coaches welcomed Steinhaus’ debut.
“She has earned it through very good performances, at the end of the day that is the main principle, whether you are a man or a woman,” said Bremen coach Alexander Nouri.
Berlin coach Pal Dardai added: “If someone refs so well, it doesn’t matter if she is a man or a woman. She has already reffed in the second league and error-free, I believe, which is wonderful.”