Bibiana Steinhaus was born in 1979. She played football for SV Bad Lauterberg and took up refereeing at the age of 15. Her father was a referee. By 2001 Bibiana was an official in the Regionalliga; by 2007 she was the first female referee in men’s professional football in Germany.
Breaking the Mould
Bibiana Steinhaus became the leading referee in women’s football, chosen for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and UEFA Nations Cup in 2009, Women’s World Cup in 2011, Olympic Games in 2012. Bibiana reached the Bundesliga in 2017, refereeing Hertha Berlin v Werder Bremen. Outside football, Bibiana trained as a police officer, rising to be Chief Inspector. Her partner since 2016 (English World Cup referee Howard Webb) is also a police officer.
Controversy and Impact
Bibiana Steinhaus faced a lot of abuse: from football crowds, on social media, and within the game. In 2014, as the fourth official, she had a confrontation with Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola. She was subjected to sexist insults by a Dusseldorf player Kerem Demirbay (who was fined and had to referee girls football as part of the sentence) after issuing a second yellow card. In 2019, Iranian State TV cancelled its coverage of a Bundesliga match because she was the referee.
Bibiana Steinhaus is a high-profile referee in women’s football; her partner, Howard Webb was a high-profile referee in the men’s game.
Educators could look at the life story of Bibiana Steinhaus and work with young people to consider these questions:
- How difficult is it to be a woman controlling high-pressure matches in men’s football watched by huge crowds and with intense media coverage?
- How might the career of Bibiana Steinhaus contribute to equality for women?
Bibiana Steinhaus Woman in charge, 2008 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
LIFE STORIES To discover now
Do you wanna know more?
HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS
Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.
Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.
Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.
In the wake of the 2015 migration peak, activists and volunteers across Europe have been involved in supporting refugees, sometimes with the simple act of offering space and friendship to participate in football through grassroots clubs to help newcomers integrate.
On May 4th 1980 Yugoslav communist leader and lifelong president Marshal Tito passed away while the country was watching the game between Hajduk Split and Red Star Belgrade. Ten years later, another game siding a Croatian club against a Serbian club on May 13th 1990, had the country on the brink of collapse.
LATEST POST You may also be interested in
Retelling the history of the women’s football in Northern Ireland offers us a view on how the game came, went and is here to stay.
History uses Football Makes History is the classroom to teach about equality and let’s students decide!
What moments in football history have we highlighted in the last month? How do they provide us with historical mirrors to the present?
During WWII Nazi Germany attacked the harbors of Belfast, destroying with them most of the stadium of Glentoran F.C.
Football StoriesOn this day, International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day or May Day, is celebrated in many countries around the world to honour and remember the struggle and fight for rights for the working class and workers. During the latter half of the...