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A historic day

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While Serie A is having one of the closest title races in recent years, the league will also make history on Sunday when 11th placed Sassuolo will face 13th place Salernitana. It will be the first match in Serie A’s 93-year-history that a female referee will officiate a league game. Maria Sole Ferrieri Caputi has been given the honour of being the first female referee in the Italian league. 

This decision comes amid the introduction of female officials in several leagues. Female referees have already taken charge of matches in the Champions League, Bundesliga, and Premier League. “It’s not an ordinary day, and I’m also moved by it. Maria Sole will debut in Serie A on merit, without any shortcuts, for her ability and skills,” said Alfredo Trentalange, president of the referees’ governing body in Italy, as quoted by the Associated Press. 

So, who is Maria Sole Ferrieri Caputi, Serie A’s first female referee?

Who is Maria Sole Ferrieri Caputi?

Maria Sole Ferrieri Caputi started her career refereeing regional matches in Italy. After years of officiating games, she was finally promoted as a referee in Serie D. She also officiated Campionato under 17-A, a youth league. Ferrieri Caputi officiated 18 matches, shelling out 83 yellow cards and nine red cards. 

It was here that she would sharpen her skills for the next five years. She refereed 87 matches in Serie D, giving out 340 yellow cards and 35 red cards. Her impeccable refereeing earned her promotion to Serie C in the 2020-21 season.  

At the same time, she also managed games in Campionato Primavera 1 and Campionato Primavera 2, an Italian youth league. 

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She managed 12 games in Campionato under 17, one game in Campionato under 18, two in Viareggio Cup and nine in Campionato Primavera. 

In the 2020-21 season, she managed 18 games, including ten in Serie C. The following season, she managed 13 games in Serie C, including one play-off match. She also got to officiate in Serie B, becoming the second referee after Maria Marotta to do so.

However, her big break came when she was appointed to referee a Coppa Italia match between Cagliari and Cittadella. This made her the first female referee to officiate in the competition. 

Ferrieri Caputi has officiated two Serie B, and one Coppa Italia matches in the current season. Even before the season, Serie A had named her as a referee for the 2022-23 season. 

“We’re about to experience a historic moment after more than 110 years. We thank those who believed in her. … We’re not granting any privileges, Maria Sole earned this step,” Trentalange said. 

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Other women referees 

Serie A is not the first league to appoint a female official to referee a match. Several competitions include UEFA Champions League, Premier League, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 have already had a female referee.

One of them is Stephanie Frappart. The Frenchwoman is the first female referee to officiate a Ligue 1 game. However, this is not the only feather in her cap. She was also the first female official to officiate a Champions League match between Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv. In addition, Frappart has also officiated games in World Cup qualifiers. 

Bibiana Steinhaus, meanwhile, was the first female referee to officiate a Bundesliga match. The referee took charge of a game between Hertha and Werder Bremen during the 2017-18 season. Her last game as a referee was in the 2020 DFL-Supercup between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Her tenure has inspired a generation of new female referees in the Bundesliga.

In the Premier League, Wendy Toms is the first female to act as an assistant referee in the Premier League. Sian Massey-Ellis and Natalie Aspinall have followed her since. However, no female has taken charge as a referee in the league. 

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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