Bibiana Steinhaus made her decision carefully and during the long forced break. “Like many people in the time of the Corona situation, I reflected on some things and reassessed them,” said the first female referee in the history of the Bundesliga and drew a completely surprising line on Wednesday. After “carefully weighing many factors”, she decided to “end her national and international career as a referee”. The league will miss them.
It was only on this Wednesday morning that the German Football Association confirmed that the referee, who has been whistling in the Bundesliga since 2017, will lead the German Supercup final between FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund for the first time. An award. And a dignified farewell. Before the kick-off, the managing director of the German Football League, Christian Seifert, presented a bouquet of flowers as a symbolic farewell gift. The President of the German Football Association, Fritz Keller, had already paid tribute to the police officer from Hanover: “In the future, German football will not only have to do without an outstanding referee, it will also lose an extraordinary personality and a pioneer in a male domain.”
Three years ago Steinhaus stepped onto the lawn of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, “knowing how to write history”, as she had last told. The debut of the first female referee in the Bundesliga received worldwide attention. “It was a long way,” said the 41-year-old looking back.
For the voluntary end of the much-noticed career of the referee pioneer, private reasons should be decisive. The age limit for Bundesliga referees is 47 years and was just as irrelevant as their performance. “I will be more detailed about the reasons for my withdrawal in due course,” said Steinhaus. But you can guess it. Steinhaus has been in a relationship with former English Fifa referee Howard Webb, who lives in New York, for four years. The love for her partner and the longing for a family of her own were probably stronger than the passion for football that determined her life for years.
Steinhaus was named “Referee of the Year” six times, and she represented Germany three times each at the Women’s World Cup and European Championship. But she really came into focus through her pioneering role as the first female referee in men’s football. After her, only Riem Hussein made this jump, which has not yet been used in the first Bundesliga.
“Bibiana Steinhaus has firmly established herself among the Bundesliga referees in recent years and has earned respect and recognition for her achievements,” said Christian Seifert, Managing Director of the German Football League. “The end of her career comes as a surprise. Personally, I wish her all the best for the future – and that the Supercup will be remembered as a worthy end to her career. “
Steinhaus has been active in the Bundesliga since 2017 – as the only woman to this day. “Bibiana is an exceptional figure”, praised DFB referee boss Lutz Michael Fröhlich at the time and thanked her goodbye: “She deserves the highest recognition for what she has achieved, the highest respect for her decision and a big thank you from me for the absolutely trusting cooperation. “Steinhaus is” an absolute asset to football, both in terms of the way she conducts the games and in personal contact “.
Steinhaus directed 23 games in the upper house and was also regularly on duty as fourth official and most recently as a video assistant. Ten years earlier, she made her debut in the second Bundesliga, where she gradually reduced prejudices.
Her credo: “Even if that sounds flat now, but I want to manage every upcoming game well,” Steinhaus said recently. “Because every game deserves the best possible game master. My drive is to still be able to develop further and the opportunity is offered to me in every game. ”That’s over now.