Staubli breaks the gender divide to take charge at U17 World Cup in India

Esther Staubli

October 13 – Switzerland’s Esther Staubli is set to make history by becoming the first European female referee – and only the second ever – to officiate in a FIFA men’s tournament.

In a world of men Staubli will break the glass ceiling with the high profile under-17 World Cup game when Japan takes on  New Caledonia in the final round group E match on Saturday.. Earlier this season she took charge of the Women’s Euro 2017 final between the Netherlands and Denmark, which the Danish won 4-2.  She also handled this year’s Women’s Champions League final.

“That FIFA has selected female referees for a men’s tournament is a logical consequence of an education programme that FIFA’s Refereeing Department started in 2016. The positive results and improvements seen in the joint preparations have shown that the time has come for elite female referees to officiate in men’s competitions together with their male colleagues,” a FIFA release said.

The 38-year-old is one of seven women referees invited to the tournament in India where all the male and female match officials, nominated by FIFA’s  referees committee, have completed a host of activities together in a series of seminars.

Staubli was the fourth official at the Iraq – Chile match in Kolkata on Wednesday. Another female referee, Kateryna Monzul from Ukraine, carried out the fourth official’s duties in the England-Mexico game.

“In having the opportunity to now work together with their male colleagues at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, FIFA’s female referees are one step further in their preparation and in their careers at the top level,” said FIFA.

Staubli has been on the international scene for some time having refereed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.The only previous time a woman refereed a FIFA men’s match was South Korea’s Im Eun-Ju, also at the under-17 World Cup, in in 2001.

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