Football fans in India will see something new at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017. Esther Staubli will become the first woman referee to officiate in a match at the tournament.

Staubli has been appointed as the referee for the encounter between Japan and New Caledonia on October 14. The match is scheduled to be played at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata.

However, Staubli is not the only women referee invited to the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, being hosted in India this year. Six other woman referees — nominated by the FIFA’s Referees Committee — are also going to officiate the matches.

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Staubli, a 37-year-old Swiss, has earlier supervised at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 and has also been on field officiating as referee at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, UEFA Women’s Champions League Final 2015 and Olympic Football Tournament in Rio 2016.

Women with their multi-tasking skillset and fast decision-making abilities are assets to the team of referees that consists of both the sexes.

The FIFA’s Referees Committee believes that the tournament will give women a pool of opportunities to grow as referees in a mixed field. Otherwise, women referees are often limited to their respective regions

This experience will also help them prepare for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.

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“That FIFA has selected female referees for a men’s tournament is a logical consequence of an education programme that FIFA’s Refereeing Department started in 2016. The positive results and improvements seen in the joint preparations have shown that the time has come for elite female referees to officiate in men’s competitions together with their male colleagues,” a FIFA release said.

With female referees in a men’s tournament, what kicked off as an education programme in 2016, has finally borne fruit.

We wish all of them good luck!

Feature image credit: FIFA

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