German officials Bibiana Steinhaus and Dr. Felix Brych have been named female referee and referee of the year 2017. The decision was made by experts and media representatives of the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and was announced on Tuesday.
For Bibiana Steinhaus, who comfortably beat her counterparts Esther Stäubli and Stephanie Frappart to the vote with 232 points (95 more than second place), this was her third such award, having also won in 2013 and 2014. For Felix Brych, however, this was a first. The refereeing official from Munich, who will be officiating at the Club World Cup from Wednesday won the award with 178 points, well clear of English counterpart Martin Atkinson on 73, and is now the third German to win the award since its origin in 1987: Aaron Scmidhuber (1992) and Dr. Markus Merk (2004 and 2007) were the previous winners from Germany. Another female referee from Germany in Riem Hussein came in at sixth place in the World Rankings.
Lutz Michael Fröhlich, sporting director of the German refereeing elite had following to say about the special nomination for the Bundesliga duo: "After both were chosen to referee in the UEFA Champions League finals, this prestigious award really rounds off a wonderful year for them. I am so pleased for the both of them and for German refereeing on the whole; this was a great success."
Herbert Fandel, chairman of the DFB refereeing board and member of the UEFA refereeing commission, also expressed his delight about the award: "The fact that the winners of this award are chosen by international media representatives and experts makes it really very special. For their years of good performances both at national and international level, Bibiana Steinhaus and Felix Brych thoroughly deserve the honour. The fact that both awards are going to Germany, shows what a fantastic reputation German referees enjoy worldwide."
For Bibiana Steinhaus, who this year became the first female referee to officiate a game in one of Europe‘s top divisions, winning this award again was yet another highlight of her career: "Even after the third time of winning it’s obviously still something very special to be voted the best female referee in the world by international experts. My team and I are pleased about the award and I hope that this international recognition will motivate lots of young female officials to keep going. This award rounds off a perfect year for me, a year in which my personal dream of refereeing in the Bundesliga came true. For this, I would like to thank my family, both my male and female refereeing colleagues, as well as everyone in my team and those behind the team."
Felix Brych was in the United Arab Emirates when he heard the news about the award, where the Munich-born referee will be officiating at the Club World Cup from Wednesday: "Honestly, I could hardly believe my luck when I found out this morning. I am so happy to receive this sort of recognition, but this is actually an award for my whole team, so I’d like to say a massive thanks to my long-time assistants Mark Borsch and Stefan Lupp, as well as my goal-line assistants Bastian Dankert and Marco Fritz for their fantastic support, not only in 2017."