"What is the difference between refereeing..."
"the Men's game and the Women's game?"
By Sandra Hunt
U.S. Soccer & National FIFA Referee
"Refereeing men's games and women's games"
As a woman FIFA Referee with many years of experience refereeing men's
amateur, professional and women's international soccer matches, I am
often asked, "What is the difference between refereeing the men's game
and the women's game? Is there a difference?" To that question I answer
a resounding "Yes." In my opinion, to successfully referee women's
matches a referee must understand some fundamental differences between
male and female soccer players.
|As a woman FIFA Referee with many years of experience
refereeing men's amateur, professional and women's
international soccer matches, I am often asked, "What is the
difference between refereeing the men's game and the women's
game? 'Is there a difference?" To that question I answer a
resounding "Yes." In my opinion, to successfully referee
women's matches a referee must understand some fundamental
differences between male and female soccer players.
Prior to the kick-off of the WUSA in 2001, my professional league
refereeing experience consisted only of men's professional soccer. My
experience refereeing women was much less than my experience refereeing
men. Early last season I found I needed to make a few adjustments to the
positioning I used for men's soccer to successfully referee women's
Generally referees can expect to run wider in a women's match, as play
does not move up and down the field quite as rapidly. Estimates are that
the distance covered by a referee is similar in a women's game compared
to a men's, and the work rate of the referee should be comparable since
it is necessary, in general, to position oneself wider during active
At most goalkeeper punts and goal kicks, it is recommended that referees
position themselves opposite the Assistant Referee in the same half of
play as the goalkeeper or the team kicking the ball because the ball
ordinarily will not travel into the opponent's half of the field. Throw-In's
require observation early in a match to determine how far the ball can
travel. Many women players have the ability to throw the ball as far as
Free kicks also require consideration for referee positioning. Male
players have much more success on free kicks using their physical
strength, while in women's soccer free kicks generally involve intricate
passing or great precision. In addition, it has been noted that women's
games are typically made up of more short passes than a men's match. I
attribute much of this to the physical strength differences between men
So to answer the question, "Is there a
difference?" I say, "Yes, different." In my opinion, one is not better
than the other, just wonderfully different. As football fans realize
their sport is played by players of another gender who participate with
the same skill, passion, enthusiasm and intensity, they too will be
drawn to appreciate and embrace "the differences" which make this the
beautiful game for everyone.
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+- Sandra Hunt Career -+