Throwbacks: A man’s game, An Egyptian woman’s whistle

By Janine Anthony 

Year: 2015

Country: Egypt 

For many observers, It was such a momentous victory for women across the nation.

A woman in the center circle, wielding control through a whistle, in a man’s game.

Photo Credit: Wadi Degla Official

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) assigned Sarah Samir to referee a men’s football match between Wadi Degla and Talaea El Gaish SC, teams which play in the Egyptian Football League’s U-17 Youth Division.  The game ended 2-0 in favour of Degla.

At the time of her appointment 27 months ago, there were 42 reported female referees but according to Samir, most played roles of assistants, not center referees. During the clash, there was also a female lineswoman.

Speaking to the press after the match on January 18, 2015, Sarah expressed her content but no surprise that women could be front and center of football in the country.

“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.

With her family, friends and social media in full support of her path and achievement, she sets her sight on something bigger – refereeing Egyptian Premier League matches and ultimately following in the footsteps of Essam Abdel-Fattah, the Egyptian who refereed at the Germany 2006 World Cup.

“I’m still young and have the chance to do so,” she quipped.

Samir’s journey as a match official commenced in 2007 and she’s mainly seen officiating lower tiers and youth championships.

Despite reports which seem to indicate other Egyptian women achieving similar feats in refereeing (Shaimaa Mansour and Nema Rashad), it’s clear she leads the front for her country’s acceptance of, as well as revolution for women.


Women’s football Throwbacks will come your way Thursdays, as we look back at some of the game’s biggest stories on the continent.

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