Bibiana Steinhaus: The Bundesliga referee shattering football's glass ceiling
Bibiana Steinhaus: The Bundesliga referee shattering football's glass ceiling Bibiana Steinhaus had pictured the moment many times before.Find the latest football news, photos, videos and featured stories on Shine News. SHINE provides trusted national and world news as well as local and regional perspectives. Walking out onto the pitch as a Bundesliga referee, the eyes of 50,000 fans and the glare of the world's media trained on her. Now it was happening for real. On September 10, 2017, Steinhaus made history in Germany by becoming the first female to officiate a top-level league match. The setting was iconic too -- Berlin's 74,000-capacity Olympiastadion has hosted Olympic Games, World Cup matches and a Champions League final. "It actually gives me goosebumps now as I'm thinking back to it," Steinhaus says, running her hand up her forearm.
"When we actually walked out there in Berlin in this Olympic Stadium -- which is pretty impressive -- and the noise and the atmosphere ... it was just a wonderful moment. The 38-year-old first received the news via email three days before her match between Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen was due to take place, as is customary with Bundesliga refereeing appointments. Hearing Steinhaus talk about that moment, you get a real sense of just how much pride it still gives her. Her smile is wide and beaming and her gestures become increasingly animated as she describes the emotions of the ensuing few hours as a "rollercoaster."But before long, however, it was back to business as usual. "We took a deep breath as a refereeing team," she recalls. "And, from that moment on, we prepared this game like every other game.
"We prepared as a team, we prepared the kickoff so when it finally came we were totally focused." Steinhaus admits she didn't anticipate the worldwide media attention her appointment drew, expecting it only to be news in her native Germany. "It was a lot of pressure," she says, but continuing to smile as though it was a challenge she clearly relished.Steinhaus' performance received widespread approval, but the attention she drew for her second match between Schalke and Mainz was, it's fair to say, altogether different. "Nobody cared," she laughs. "Nobody was really interested, it was like a mini note in the media.
"That showed me it's accepted, people accept a good quality referee no matter what sex, no matter what size, no matter what background, what religion, what culture. "If you have the quality and if you have the passion to do your job as best as you can then doors are open. And that's what we want for the beauty of the game."Steinhaus' Bundesliga breakthrough in Germany should not be underestimated. This is the same organization, after all, that still banned women from taking part in football as recently as the 1950s. Germany's female equivalent of the Bundesliga, the Allianz Frauen-Bundesliga, is now one of the most organized and competitive leagues in the women's game. No country can boast as many Champions League winners, with Frankfurt, Turbine Potsdam, Wolfsburg and Duisburg having won the competition a total of nine times. Frankfurt hold the joint all-time record of four along with Lyon.