Referee Claudia Umpierrez to officiate WWC 2019 opening match

Referee Claudia Umpierrez from Uruguay will officiate the opening match at the Women’s World Cup 2019. She can’t wait to get involved in a this big tournament in France. “The 90 minutes of every match is what it all comes down to. You have all this preparation but that is the important part.”

But how does she stay focused? What brought her from a small village called Pan de Azucar to a stadium packed with people? Referee Claudia Umpierrez shares some tips with you for your career.

Claudia Umpierrez at Women’s World Cup in Canada

Total focus for 90 minutes

“The best part of being a referee are the 90 minutes on the field of play”, Umpierrez says to FIFA. “When you’re on the pitch, you can totally switch off from everything. You forget about the problems you have in your daily life.”

She focuses on the calls she has to make. Just that. “You enter the pitch and all that matters is the game, those 90 minutes. No match the same as any other.” All she does is focus on that single match at that time. But how do you stay focused? Check out these 7 tips.

Get your team in the same vibe

Claudia Umpierrez knows the role as a referee is important for her as a person. “However, the players are always the main characters of the game.” But that still means you need to love this hobby. “I always enjoy officiating a game and pass this feeling on to my refereeing team”, Umpierrez adds. “The match shouldn’t just be a duty for us, but also a joyful experience.”

The biggest lesson for me here is: get your team in the same vibe. They need have the same feeling as you, because that will make you stronger as a team. You need to speak and work at the same level, that makes your performance better. So make sure you get an idea how your assistants or referee are in the dressing room and get the at the same vibe.

Don’t forget where you started

After a long period without games, as she has given birth to her child, Umpierrez is finally back at the top stage for the Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada. “As the captains chose which end to play from, my career seemed to play out before my eyes like a movie,” she tells  FIFA. “I thought about how it had all started on a little pitch in my home town of Pan de Azucar, and then looked at where I was now – in a stadium in front of over 30,000 spectators.”

Don’t forget where you started as a referee. Feel proud of what you achieved so far.

Dedicate time to training

Work, school, family time. It all takes so much time, because they are important. But don’t for get time for training sessions. If you want to reach the top as a referee, you need to be very fit. That’s why Umpierrez got out of bed very early. When her child was still young, she got up and even did a training session after breast-feeding. Then off to work later on.

“The path to becoming a referee was and still is tough”, is the experience of Umpierrez. And now her child is a bit older, she still has to manage time to find time for a training session. “I train in the morning, after that I work a seven or eight-hour-day as a lawyer and then also look after my daughter.”

“If you asked me if I’d rather be a full-time referee, my answer would obviously be yes. But unfortunately that’s not possible, because I couldn’t put food on the table for my family in the country where I live if that were my sole profession.

Be prepared to step up as female in a men’s world

But how does a female referee step up in a men’s world? “It is important for female referees to demonstrate that they are ready when the opportunity comes”, she says. The last few years Umpierrez has also taken up the whistle in men’s top divisions, like Bibiana Steinhaus did in Germany and Stéphanie Frappart recently in France.

For her it has improved her fitness a lot and she has even taken a coach who helps her with strenght and contioning. “I would love to see more women refereeing men’s football,” she says. She thinks back about the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 for men, that she took part in with fellow referees.

Claudia Umpierrez during the u17 World Cup in India

Demonstrate what you can

Esther Staubli, also present at the WWC in France was the first female referee there to officiate in a men’s competition. “That was a milestone and great experience. It demonstrated what we women are capable of and that we can be counted on.”

“Working in men’s football has allowed me to focus on my rhythm and my stamina and I’m reaping the benefits now, since women’s football has now come on immensely in recent years and got a whole lot quicker.”

See all referees appointed for the Women’s World Cup 2019.

Video of referee Claudia Umpierrez

Female referees in The Netherlands: “Come on girls, take up that whistle!”

The need for more female referees in The Netherlands. An interview with Kevin Blom, who heads the female refereeing development programme.

Our Orange Lionesses are due to leave for France to compete in the Women’s World Cup. Obviously, everybody’s hoping the Dutch will wage another successful campaign on the back of winning UEFA WEURO 2017, which gave Dutch women’s football a huge boost. The momentum gained by Dutch women’s football is reflected in the number of female referees, underscores Kevin Blom, who heads the female refereeing development programme.

Interview by Jan from Dutch Referee Blog for the national Dutch RA’s magazine. The story is translated by Ben from Thank you very much, Ben! (and follow his blog as well please)

Kevin Blom about female refereeing in the The Netherlands

Positive effect of WEURO 2017

“The Dutch win and presence during WEURO 2017 had the added effect of stimulating more women to take up the whistle or assistant’s flag. Their number is still too small, however. It boggles the mind that we have so many women playing football but only about 40 female registered referees.”

“We did not expect to have a referee at this year’s World Cup yet, as none of our top refs are at Elite level yet. UEFA referees start in Category 3, so Shona and Lizzy will have to be promoted three times to make it to Elite level.” Blom sees a rosy future ahead, though. “Our female referees are showing great progress. We hope to have a representative team at the 2023 World Cup. We’re working hard to achieve that goal.”

Solid international performances

At the moment, Holland can boast three international referees and five international assistant referees (see boxout). Nicolet Bakker was selected to act as an assistant referee at the WEURO 2017 in Holland. “Our referees and assistants are performing well, both domestically and internationally”, Blom emphasises. “We hope that Shona Shukrula and Lizzy van der Helm will be promoted to a higher category before long. UEFA has included Shona in its special referee talents programme, which means she’s doing well.”

Dutch women's cup final 2019 toss

Shona Shukrala at toss of Dutch women’s cup final 2019

Women in the pro game

Although the Eredivision cannot boast the presence of a female referee, some women are knocking on the door. Shona Shukrula has been invited to do an intake for the Talent Course Pro Football (TTBV in Dutch) and has already been assigned matches in the fourth tier of Dutch football. Already in the TTBV programme, Franca Overtoom has assisted in as many as eight matches on the second tier of Dutch pro football.

Kevin Blom welcomes this development and hopes that some of his pupils will make that final step into the pro game in due time. Happy as he is to see the development programme is bearing fruit, Blom does realise there’s only a small base to work from. “There are approximately 40 female registered referees active in Holland. Increasing that number is one of our key challenges”, he stresses.

More female referees in The Netherlands

This weekend, Blom was at Buitenboys, an amateur club, to award a Fair Play certificate. He found five girls reffing matches there, so female refs are out there alright. “It’s now a matter of getting those girls to go one step further and register as official referees.” Blom made it clear that any girl showing fitness and a solid performance could quickly climb the Dutch reffing ladder, up to international grade. “There’s a wealth of opportunities”. It will have to be spelled out, of course, that not every one will rise to highest level, but Blom would be very content if girls become more conspicuously present in refereeing roles.

Blom has scheduled meetings with female referees who have taken refereeing courses. Among the things he wants to learn are their motives for taking up the whistle. “I’d like to learn why they’ve gone into reffing and what we can do to encourage others”, Blom says. “One thing I hear quite often is that women tend to be overlooked for volunteer work at clubs. That’s one thing we can work on. We will also ask other national associations for their solutions to getting women involved.”

Role models

“What’s also likely to help is for young girls to have good role models.” That’s why he is glad that the women who are within reach of the pro game have taken up giving courses and presentations at football clubs. Initiatives like #ZijFluitTop (the Dutch equivalent of #GirlsThatRef), with several sports associations drawing attention to female referees, can meet with Blom’s approval as well. “Unfortunately, these initiatives have not yet resulted in female hopefuls attending our courses in droves”, Blom hastens to add.

“This narrow basis really pinches the number of women rising to the top. If female refereeing wants to evolve, it is essential for the number of female referees to grow. “That number really has to increase. We have eight women at the top of Dutch football now. There should be fifty. So come on, girls, take up that whistle! And experience first-hand how challenging, enriching and satisfying it is to be in charge of a football match.”

Note: I’ve written this story for the COVS, the Dutch referee association. It’s translated by Ben from Much appreciated!

Boxout: Dutch international referees


  • Vivian Peeters (since 2005)
  • Shona Shukrula (since 2017)
  • Lizzy van der Helm (since 2018)

Assistant referees

  • Nicolet Bakker (since 2008)
  • Fijke Hoogendijk (since 2013)
  • France Overtoom (since 2017)
  • Bianca Scheffers (since 2014)
  • Diana Snoeren (since 2019)

Boxout: Female referees across our borders

In France, Stéphanie Frappart (below) recently débuted as a referee in Ligue 1 and has now officiated in two matches in France’s top flight. In Germany, Bibiana Steinhaus has just finished her second season in the Bundesliga. And across the North Sea, Sian Massey-Ellis made her debut as an assistant referee in the Premier League on 28 December 2010, running the line when Blackpool hosted Sunderland.

Stéphanie Frappart during her debut

The IFAB Laws of the Game App

The IFAB Laws of the Game App is the new app for referees, players, coaches and fans. Because of this new app, you can keep the rules of football in your pocket.

Another big advantage: you can make notes for yourself about the Laws of the Game. That gives you the chance to have another look at it later on.

Download IFAB Laws of the Game App

IFAB Laws of the Game App

App for everyone

As the IFAB says:

Do you want to become a (better) referee? Are you a player, a coach, or a journalist writing about football? Do you want to check something in the Laws while watching a match on TV or at a stadium?

It does not matter if you are a professional or an amateur, an expert or a die-hard fan, or just curious. If you referee, play, coach or watch football – you have to know the Laws of the Game.

Laws of the Game changes

For the 2019-2020 season there are a few changes again. You can see the changes for next season on my blog. I’ve also got the full text documents in English, German, Spanish and French. Download them on the LOTG page.

Paper version of LOTG book

And if you still prefer a paper version. The Top Ref offers printed LOTG versions in English and Spanish. Go to their webshop.

Week 33 Laws of the Game Quiz 2018-2019

It’s a best of this week. Plus it’s the last quiz of the current season. In september I am back. Don’t forget to subscribe to an e-mail notification in September when the new season starts. It’s just one e-mail and you’ll get notified when I start again.

And about this week’s quiz: some questions were answered correctly by only 28%. I hope you’ll do that one better this time. Good luck!


The Quiz

Ball touches match official and referee scores a goal

When the ball touches match official and the referee scores a goal. This is added to the 2019-2020 Laws of the Game, but why? Because it really happens sometimes, as you can see in Dutch amateur football.

The referee has to allow the goal in this case, but what is the decision in 2019-2020? Read more about that below the video.

Reaction from the referee

The referee was very open about the situation above one day later in the media. Of course he felt terrible ‘and I am not proud of it’. He explains what happens. “As you can see on the footage, it was a messy situation for the goal. I am assuming that the ball is shot to the second post, but it is coming short. I am still trying to dodge the ball, but it touches my foot and went straight into the goal.”

At that moment he wants to disappear, as he knew he has to allow the goal. It went from 3-1 to 3-2 due to that goal and then it’s very important to stay focused as a referee. Luckily the goal did not influence the result, as the home team won with 4-2.

The referee expects a ball at the second post, but it’s played shortly and he “scores” a goal

LOTG 2019-2020: when ball touches match official

Situations like this will not happen again in the next seasons. As you know there are a three reasons when the ball is out of play. Two are the common ones that have always been in the Laws of the Game:

  • When the ball as wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air
  • Or when play has been stopped by the referee

But the third reason is new: when the ball touches a match official and remains on the field of play. Not in all cases, but the referee has to stop play if

  • a team starts a promising attack or
  • the ball goes directly into the goal or
  • the team in possession of the ball changes

In all these cases, play is restarted with a dropped ball. But in 2019-2020 the LOTG mention a new way of restarting for a situation mentioned above …

Restart with dropped ball in penalty area

Because the ball is in the penalty area when touched by the referee, the restart is a little different now. The 2019-2020 Laws of the Game say:

“The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area if, when play was stopped

  • the ball was in the penalty area or
  • the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area”

Thanks, Peter, for mentioning it in the comments.

(Below some personal experiences, feel free to share yours when you touched the ball by accident)

Personal cases

My personal case was a bit odd. I was following play on the left side of the field of play. Then the midfielder shot the ball at chest height and I had no chance to move away. If I wasn’t there, the ball would have gone out of play.

Because of my touch, the opposing team gets ball posession. They pass a few times and shoot on goal. An easy one, you think. But then the goalkeeper lets the ball slip through her fingers and a goal is scored. Even though there was no chance to move away from the ball, you feel sorry for the goal being scored.

What are your experiences with touching the ball?

Macron referee shirt Uefa Champions League

The Macron referee shirt will be introduced in the Uefa Champions League in 2019-2020. On Dutch Referee Blog you’ll get an exclusive preview.

The real colours of the shirt are very, very bright, but do you like them? Below, you’ll also find the blue version. Please share your thoughts below.

Buy the shirts

You can buy the shirts in the Macron shop. The price is €79,- per shirt. Go to the shop.

Photo’s by refs

Week 32 Laws of the Game Quiz 2018-2019

Week 32 Laws of the Game Quiz 2018-2019.

The ball is in play and a player commits an offence inside the field of play against a fan who is running on the halfway line. What is the correct restart of play?

Football fan enters field of play

The quiz questions