Esther Staubli referees Uefa Women’s CL

The referee of Uefa’s Women Champions League final is Esther Staubli. But who is the referee from Switzerland? She’s a former football player and “I am not proud of” the number of yellow and red cards I got in my career.

David Wiederkehr from the Sontags Zeitung, a newspaper in Switzerland visited the Women’ World Cup referees when they trained in Zurich last month. That’s where he talked to referee Esther Staubli. He describes the Swiss referee as a “hothead” while she was a player.

Staubli is 35 years old and is born in Bern. She has studied Agronomy and teaches at the College of Agriculture in Zollikofen. She is also qualified to referee men’s games in the Swiss top leagues. During the 2014-2015 season she made her debut in the Challenge League, the second level. She officiated four games on that level so far. She’s likely to be the next female referee who officiates in the Super League. That would be the first woman to referee a game on the highest league in Switzerland since the retirement of Nicole Petignat, who quit 6 years ago. Petignat was the first female ref in an international men’s competition by Uefa. She made her debut in the game AIK Stockholm – Fylkyr Reykjavik in August 2003.

Esther Staubli will also go the the World Cup in Canada. She missed this tournament 4 years ago due to a stress fracture. “Since that happened, I learned that health is the most important thing there is”, she told a magazine on women’s football. She adds now after her WC election: “The World Cup participation is a reward for the effort that I put into it.”

Esther Staubli describes herself

How does she describe herself? “I was an emotional player. As a referee I have a certain degree of understanding and don’t take anything personal during the game”. She adds: “I am not proud of” the number of yellow and red cards I got in my career.

Massimo Busacca, Staubli’s countryman and the Fifa referee boss, stresses that has “great potentional” to become a top class referee.

Staubli will be assisted by Belinda Brem and Susanne Küng. Désirée Grundbacher will act as fourth official and Emilie Aubry is the reserve assistant referee.

The game between 1. FFC Frankfurt and Paris Saint-Germain will be played on May 14th at 6pm CET.

Ella de Vries never dreamt of World Cup at start career

Ella de Vries will visit Canada soon for a World Cup as assistant referee. In an interview with Dutch Referee Blog she talks about the upcoming tournament and starting as a women in the football world. Not everyone was so happy with a lady refereeing a men’s game. “But those situations gave me strength and faith for later challenges in my career”, says Ella de Vries.

Congratulations with your appointment for the 2015 World Cup. How does that feel?

Ella de Vries - assistant referee.Thank you very much. I am very happy and proud to have been selected for such a great event. It is a great honour. Of course one hopes to be selected, but it is not until you see your name on the list that there is a sense of relief. That sense of relief is very short lived though as we must continue to work hard and be completely prepared for when we attend the World Cup in Canada. I was at work when I received my official email from FIFA. I am a fulltime mathematics teacher at Stedelijk Lyceum Topsport in Wilrijk.

What do you expect from refereeing at the World Cup in Canada?

I expect we will see some great football matches. Everyone will watch this event. It will be the first time we will be working with goal-line technology. I am looking forward to be part of this fantastic tournament. And as always when I step out on the field, I will try to make it my best performance.

What did you do to get appointed?

All of us officials have to make a lot of sacrifices along the way to get to this point whether it has been work, family, social etc. We have been involved in other FIFA tournaments over the past few years which led to our selection. We know each other well and it feels like being a part of a team. We invest a lot of free time in football, both technical sessions and fitness trainings. Leading up to the event, the training intensity even increased. I train daily, sometimes even twice a day. The players will be in top condition and so we need to be right there with them and keep up. But in the end it will be our performances on the pitch that are the most important. So it is one game at a time and focus on doing our best at that particular moment.

How did you get involved in refereeing?

I started refereeing when I was 18 years old. Even as a little kid I was interested in football. Whenever there was a ball I wanted to kick it around and play with it. My parents didn’t want me to play football. They thought this wasn’t a sport for girls. But when they saw the advertisement to become a referee, they both said maybe this could be something for me. I started the course and began going out to do matches. Over time, my confidence grew and I started to work higher level matches which has now lead me to here. When I started I never dreamt of being selected for the World Cup.

What do you like about refereeing so much and have you ever thought of quitting this hobby?

To be part of this beautiful game is fantastic. As a referee we try our best to make sure the game is played by the Laws. We don’t often make friends with the players when out on the field. One side usually doesn’t like us as much depending on who is winning and who is losing. We are not perfect out there and we sometimes make mistakes. Like in normal life there are moments where you feel very good and other moments where it could be better. Working at the highest level of football as a woman is not always easy. I have thought about quitting this hobby on some occasions but the thought has never stayed long. I am fortunate to have the support of my family and a lot of friends who are there for me in good, and more importantly, the bad times.

What’s the hardest challenge/problem you faced during your career? And how did you solve it?

During my career there were several challenges. I am sure all referees around the world face some problems and challenges during their career. Being a woman didn’t make things easier. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of prejudices within sport. When I started as a referee, there weren’t that many women referees around. I arrived at a stadium once where an older man was standing at the entrance. He was not sure if I would be able to referee the match I was appointed to. He didn’t believe that such a young girl could handle the match with almost grown men. When I left the stadium afterwards he spoke to me and admitted he wasn’t too sure about me being the referee earlier that day. Although now that he had seen me I was welcome to come as a referee every weekend. Situations like this gave me strength and faith for later challenges in my career.

What are the best 3 tips you ever got that made you a better referee

  1. Trust your own instincts.
  2. Listen to your observers/instructors and take that advice with you.
  3. And for referees who will officiate their first games at a higher level, remember it is still just a game, 11 against 11 with 1 ball, so do your best, smile and enjoy!

Have a good time in Canada and enjoy the games you referee there.

Lucie Ratajova: “I love refereeing, I love football”

World Cup assistant referee Lucie Ratajova

World Cup assistant referee Lucie Ratajova (Czech Republic)

Lucie Ratajova is again appointed to the Women’s World Cup. After her tournament in 2015, she is now also appointed for the 2019 tournament in France. Before her first tournament I got a chance to speak with the female referee from the Czech Republic can’t describe her feelings. “And I did not expect the appointment.”

In 2019 she is appointed for England vs Scotland and as AVAR in the game between Australia vs Brazil with referee Esther Staubli.

In her 2015 interview you’ll also read why/how she started and there are lots of tips and insights for you. Enjoy!

Congratulations with your appointment for the 2015 World Cup. How does that feel?

Lucie Ratajova: “Thank you for your congratulations. I am very very happy. It is very difficult to describe my feelings. I can not find right words, that is something amazing. You should feel it. Unbeliavable. I think that somebody has a dream to be in World Cup and now the dream comes true.”

I did not expect it. I had a opportunity to be selected as many other assistants from the World and Europe. There are a lot of good assistants. We had a course for assistants in Doha in November and also I was appointed to Algarve Cup in March. So I felt there is little chance to go to Canada. But this chance was there for everybody.

I heard about it via email. The email meant that I was selected and appointed to the course in Zurich and World Cup in Canada.

What do you expect from refereeing at the World Cup in Canada?

It will be great event for women´s football and for me as well. There will be the best level of football so the refereeing will be also on high level and it will be more difficult than usual. More pressure, higher expectations, more spectators, more skills so it will be something unique.

What did you do to get appointed?

I always try to do my best. I try to be better and better in every single match. Because every match makes you stronger. I have to be ready in every moment. I train every day. Sometimes it is not so easy because I go to work every day. It is not easy to combine it with a job but I try to arrange it. I have big support from my family and it’s also important to have a good boss at work.

When I train I either go train outside or inside (gym), it depends on the weather. I work hard in agility and speed. There is always something to improve. I think that everyone has something to improve.

Lucie Ratajova in football stadium.

How did you get involved in refereeing?

I started to be a referee in 2005. In that moment I stopped as active football player in the top women´s  league in Czech Republic. Two of my colleagues at work were referees so they asked me if I wanted to be one of them, because they knew I liked football. I have put more focus on being an assistant referee since 2007. We had very good international referees in Czech Republic that time and we didn´t have so many good AR’s. So maybe that was the reason to become an assistant referee and I worked hard for it. I have never regret of my decision. I am also referee in some competitions in the Czech Republic but I feel more comfortable and more sure as AR.

You’ve worked along with experienced Czech female referee Dagmar Damkova. How was that for you?

I had a opportunity to be her assistant referee. It was “the best school and biggest experience”  in my refereeing life. She teached me and helped me a lot. She is unique person. She always gave me the best advice and I try to follow her way. She is “the best teacher”. I am very happy that I had this chance to be with her.

No Czech referee at the Women’s World Cup this time. Have you ever worked with any of the referees and how do you think cooperation would be with refs who come from other countries?

Yes, there is no Czech referee yet. It’s a pity that Czech referee – Jana Adamkova is not coming. I am used to work with other referees. No problem for me. I have already worked with many of them from the list for Canada. I am ready for cooperation with all of them. I know especially European referees but I also worked with referee from another confederations. I am curious who will be my referee. It is not decided yet. The cooperation with referees from other countries will be perfect, I am sure.

Ratajova during international game.

What do you like about refereeing so much and have you ever thought of quitting this hobby?

I love refereeing, I love football, so I have never thought of quitting this hobby so far. First of all I have to be healthy.

What’s the hardest challenge/problem you faced during your career? And how did you solve it?

I think that I have not had big problem in my career. Maybe something for every referee is that it is not easy to hear some bad words from spectators, but I know that it belongs to football.

What are the best 3 tips you ever got that made you a better referee

  • to work hard,
  • to be ready,
  • to be modest and be yourself.

Have a good time in Canada and enjoy the games you referee there.

Check out the names of all the officials for the Women’s World Cup.

Or read the interview with Greek World Cup referee Thalia Mitsi.

Ambitious referee Azzopardi from Malta goes for WC

Maltese referee Esther Azzopardi had recently been promoted to Uefa’s Elite Development list. She got the love from refereeing from her father, a former Fifa assistant referee. “I always trust in his advice.”

An interview with Esther Azzopardi on the Dutch Referee Blog.

Photo courtesy Domenic Aquilina, Malta Football Association Photographer. His website.

When and why did you start refereeing?

Azzopardi: “I wore the uniform and blew the whistle for the very first time in September 1998. Today, I am 30 years old and I have been refereeing since I was 17. Refereeing has been an integral part of my life as I have devoted my attention and passion to it since the very beginning. My father (Ronald Farrugia, ed.) was a FIFA assistant referee and he is my role model. It was him who passed on his love for refereeing and I always trust in his advice.”

How did you prepare for the new season?

“Locally, the football season starts around mid-August and ends in May. During summer I continue to train regularly to remain fit. This year, I also had the opportunity to attend a one week training course in Bulgaria, organised by FIFA and MFA.”

How is it to be the only female referee in the national top class?

“I feel honoured to referee in the National top class but I do not wish to remain the only woman out there! I am continuously encouraging other girls to take up the whistle and we are working very hard to promote refereeing. Women have so much to offer. For some reason, many believe that you have to be a man to be a good referee. This is simply not true. Women make great referees. In fact women are better equipped to handle some aspects of the job than men are. But this does not mean that one is better than the other, only that we, women, may have different ways of doing things.”

Dagmar Damkova from Czech Republic, who I’ve interviewed for my blog too, is also the only female referee at men’s top level. She gives much less cards than male referees. How is that with you?

“I don’t feel that players change their behaviour according to the gender of the referee. Although a difference in behaviour may occur because there is a different kind of approach. For instance, I consider myself as a good verbal communicator and I use this skill to my advantage. This usually results in the players behaving well. I also have good non-verbal communication skills. When sometimes I give “The Look”, this stops any misbehaviour and respect is earned instead. This might also be the reason why I give fewer cards than other male referees.”

Photo courtesy Domenic Aquilina, Malta Football Association Photographer. His website.

You’re now promoted to the Elite Development group. What are your goals?

“I always aim to perform to a consistently high standard and officiate at the higher profile matches. But ultimately my aim is to referee in a Women’s World Cup. This takes a lot of hard work. After refereeing a game, I get feedback from my observer and from my mentor on how to improve in the next games. I also analyze different game situations and I watch recordings of the games I officiated in order to evaluate my performance. Personally, I feel that refereeing is a continuous learning process.”

Ever thought of being a female referee at a (men’s) World Cup?

“I guess refereeing in a Women’s World Cup is just as fine.”

What is the most important thing my readers (mostly referees) should keep in mind when officiating?

“The biggest part of being a referee is being able to deal with people in a whole array of situations. Being calm and being able to manage whatever situation is presented to you effectively is crucial. One needs to visualize him/herself at key moments in the game: set a good tone for the game from the start by applying the right foul recognition – not too many, not too few; talk to players in key moments to calm them down and keep them in the game; be close to play to be accurate and convincing with your decisions, especially when it goes towards the penalty areas.”

Hectic days for US team at Women’s World Cup

The team of referees from the United States at the Women’s World Cup in Germany had some pretty busy days before Wednesday’s match between England and Japan. “Monday has been very hectic”, writes assistant referee Veronica Perez on the US officials’ blog.

“Sunday, immediately after we completed our match we heard the news about the appointments for the 3rd round of matches. Kari and Marlene will be joining Carol Ann (Canada) and Ivonne (El Salvador) to work the match on Wednesday between England and Japan, in Augsburg. Kari will be working as a 4th official.”

On Monday they traveled back from Wolfsburg to the referee headquarters in Frankfurt for a debriefing and recovery training session. But that’s not all: later that night the officials for wednesday’s match got on the train to Augsburg, where the match will be played. The lenght of their trip that day: about 725 kilometres.

Grotere kaart weergeven

Perez also explains why she’s not been appointed for the match: “Some of you may be wondering why this assignment is not being officiated as a trio. In fact, in women’s refereeing we do not have a true trio system. As the tournament progresses, we may be asked to work with other officials.”

Read more blogs from the US team on

Curious hand ball situation in Women’s World Cup

It took at least three seconds. A player from Equatorial Guinea caught the ball in her hand after it bounced from the bar. Australian opponents during the Women’s World Cup matches protested, but the game went on.

Referee Gyoengyi Gaal from Hungary completely  missed the incident and let the game continue. “What a curious situation”, was the reaction of the German football commentator. Watch it yourself below:

Fifa is blocking all video material about the match (not because of handball, but media rights). So if the link below doesn’t work, check the summary on Fifa’s website (embedding is impossible, as far as I know).