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Have you seen a football match recently? If you have, I’m sure that you heard lots of comments about the referee as well as about the players! Referees have a very difficult job. They have to make quick and important decisions in the middle of a fast-moving game. And, of course, there are thousands of people shouting at them too. The crowd is never happy when the ref sends off their favourite player. Also, in football today there still isn’t the same technology as there is in other sports, like tennis. The job can get even more difficult when you’re a woman who is refereeing a men’s match!
There is no reason why there should not be the same number of male and female referees in the sport today. However, the number of female refs is still very low –particularly at the highest levels of professional football. This is something that one woman, Pat Dunn, who died in 1999, would have been very sad about.
Pat was the first woman in the UK to referee a men’s football match but she wasn’t allowed to do this for a long time. Pat was a strong supporter of women’s rights in sport and became President of the Ladies’ Football Association in 1969. Then she decided to train to be a referee. For a long time the Football Association refused to give her a certificate although she had passed the exams. But Pat continued fighting and she finally got permission in 1976. The next month she became famous when she refereed her first official FA game. Pat became a very good and successful referee and even saved a footballer’s life. She helped him when he was injured during a match!
Today there are some famous female referees, like Bibiana Steinhaus from Germany who has just refereed the final of the Women’s Football World Cup. Bibiana decided to become a referee at the age of 16 and later was the first female referee in the German men’s professional league. But there are only a few like her.
Football is still mainly a men’s game – both for players and referees. But for how long? Will we see more women referees in the future? We’d like to know what YOU think. So, please go online and leave a comment on our website. We’ll print the most interesting ones in the magazine next week.