Israel's first transgender football referee takes field as woman

Sapir Berman follows in the footsteps of British football referee Lucy Clark, who came out as transgender in 2018.

The Associated Press May 04, 2021 09:52:11 IST
Israel's first transgender football referee takes field as woman

Referee Sapir Berman works during an Israeli Premier League football match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem. AP

Israeli football's first transgender football referee took the field Monday for the first time since coming out publicly as a woman last week.

Sapir Berman blew the whistle as head referee to kick off the Hapoel Haifa vs Beitar Jerusalem match.

She was greeted with little fanfare by the sparse crowd at Sami Ofer Stadium. A Haifa fan held up a sign “Sapir Berman super woman.”

In pre-game warmups and during the match, it was business as usual for the players. Some chatted and laughed with her before kickoff. Beitar Jerusalem fan Omer Weiss told Israel’s Kan public broadcaster that “we have nothing personal against anyone. Everyone should live their own way.”

Monday evening's game in the northern port city of Haifa had been postponed by a day after Israel declared Sunday a national day of mourning for the 45 people killed in last week's stampede at a religious festival.

Berman has worked as a football referee for several years in Israel's Premier League and announced last week that she has publicly come out as a woman. She said that she had received the support of family, fans, football officials and players.

Berman follows in the footsteps of British football referee Lucy Clark, who came out as transgender in 2018.

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