Football

Club World Cup a ‘dream come true’ for female referee Edina Alves

Brazilian Edina Alves, who made history this week when she was named as a referee at next month's Club World Cup, credited her boundary-breaking feat to two decades of hard work.

The 40-year-old is set to become the first woman to officiate a professional men's football match organised by Fifa, after spending half her life refereeing.

Women have officiated high-level football before - including the Under-17 World Cup, Bundesliga and Champions League, but never a professional men's match organised by the game's top governing body.

"Nothing fell from the sky for me," she told AFP in an interview, adding that her selection for the Feb 1-11 tournament in Qatar is "a dream come true".

"I worked very hard, preparing myself for the day I would get a chance like this," she said.

Hailing from the small rural town of Goioere, in the southern state of Parana, Alves put herself through night school for a degree in physical education by working at a garden shop, shovelling dirt into bags.

From young, she played five-on-five futsal. But in a world where men still dominate the game, she could not find enough teammates to form a full women's team, and never got the chance to play professionally.

Her refereeing journey started in 1999, when she was asked to fill in as an assistant referee at an amateur match.

A year later, she was officiating professionally.

In 2019, she became the first woman to referee a Brazilian men's first division match in 14 years and also took charge of four matches at the Women's World Cup in France, including the semi-final between the United States and England. - AFP

Football