Heba Saadieh makes history as first Palestinian to referee at a World Cup

Heba Saadieh makes history as first Palestinian to referee at a World Cup

QLNews
By QLNews

On Tuesday, when England defeated China 6-1 in a Group D match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup at the Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide, Australia, a little piece of history was also made on the sidelines of the game.

The game’s second assistant referee Heba Saadieh, clad in a hijab, became the first Palestinian to referee at a World Cup game.

The 34-year-old said she was proud of her achievement.

“I’m so proud to be the first-ever Palestinian referee, male or female, in the World Cup,” Saadieh was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

“That makes me feel a responsibility to show a very good performance during the tournament. I hope I can open this door for others, for Palestinian women referees — and men also — to be selected in the future,” she added.

Saadieh, who was born to Palestinian parents, grew up in Syria in the Yarmouk Camp, along with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

After specialising in physical education while studying at Damascus University, she started her refereeing career in Syria. She joined the football referees’ committee and became a fourth official in the Syrian League before war forced her to flee to Malaysia in 2012.

She continued her refereeing career there before moving to the Swedish capital of Stockholm. She then pursued a FIFA referee license, began officiating in third-level Swedish Division 1 matches and obtained her international refereeing badge in 2016.

She then called the shots in several international tournaments, including the Asian Football Confederation Cup, Olympics qualification matches and Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

But with her appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, her blazing career has just reached the next level.

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