Kolkata, Oct 16: Switzerland’s Esther Staubli, who recently became the first female referee to officiate a match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup since Korean Im Eun Ju took control of a contest at Trinidad & Tobago in 2001, said she treated the Group E game between Japan and New Caledonia here as any other.
“It was a match like any other one. Later on maybe there will be more emotions, or I will realise it was something special, but before I really tried to prepare like it was a normal match and do my best … It was really nice that they liked me as a referee, and that they just looked at me like a normal referee, Staubli said in a statement released by FIFA.
“I think there is not a big difference in whether it was a male or female referee, it is just the performance that counts,” said Staubli, a school teacher.
Along with six other women’s referees, Staubli completed the list appointed for India 2017, an initiative which began in 2016 as part of the quest by the FIFA Referee Committee and the administrators and instructors within the department to improve the quality of officiating at FIFA events.
The match ended 1-1 with New Caledonia registering their first point in a World Cup across age groups.
“(Staubli) did a great job and we have nothing to criticise. I think it is good for football in general. She helped the teams to play well. All the players respected her, so there was no difference to a man. I hope this is not the last time we see this,” New Caledonia coach Dominique Wacalie had said after the tie.
“Honestly I couldn’t really remember (Staubli’s) performance. And this is of course a good sign,” Japan coach Yoshiro Moriyama had added.