Meet Sarah Samir; Egypt's first female referee

Meet Sarah Samir; Egypt's first female referee
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Published February 23rd, 2016 - 15:19 GMT via

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Sarah Samir (source: albawabhnews)
Sarah Samir (source: albawabhnews)

In the Arab world, men often believe that women should be limited to do certain jobs that do not require much physical effort. As a result, in the world of Middle Eastern sport, few Arab countries have female football teams. This is, however, not the case in Egypt where women often play football professionally.

Aside from Egyptian women playing football, a woman has now been appointed to referee male football matches - a first for Egypt.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) assigned Sarah Samir to referee a men’s football match between Wadi Degla FC and Talaea El Gaish SC, teams which play in the Egyptian Football League’s under 17 Youth Division.

Players and fans were surprised to see a female referee. Speaking on Egyptian TV after the match, Samir said she hopes to referee more games in the future and that she did not find any difficulties in refereeing the match.

Speaking to Ahram Online, Samir said she believes it would be great if more female referees were to be signed up to manage male football games. She added that players behave very professionally when a woman is refereeing the match.

"We are a Middle Eastern society where men usually refrain from obscenities in the presence of women. For instance, in the fourth division, players usually hurl a barrage of insults but when I refereed some matches in that tier, I found nothing but respect," she said.

Samir added that her family has been supportive of her being a referee and want to see her progress. She also said that many people congratulate her and give their moral support.

Samir is ambitious and has her eyes set on refereeing Egyptian Premier League matches. She also aspires to follow in the footsteps of Essam Abdel-Fattah, the Egyptian who refereed World Cup 2006 matches. "I want to take part in more than the World Cup. I’m still young and I have a chance to do so," she said.

Samir started refereeing matches in 2007 and mainly attends lower-division matches and youth games. Speaking to the Egyptian CBC channel, she expressed happiness at the way members of the public are supporting her and said there is a bright future for sportswomen in Egypt.

During the Wadi Degla FC and Talaea El Gaish SC game, there was also a female lineswoman, said Samir, adding that there are seven female referees in Egypt, five of whom are lineswomen.

By Renad Ghanem

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