Heba Saadia will be the first Palestinian football referee to work at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She will also be one of the first Arab women to do this.
She was chosen to be on the team of referees for the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup in Vietnam. Last year, she worked at the Women’s Asian Cup in India.
Saadia started off as a referee in the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp, where she was born to Palestinian parents. When she went to college in Damascus to study physical education, she continued to focus on sports.
“I was watching a group of referees train, and I noticed that none of them were women,” Saadia told Palestine TV Sports and Youth Channel in an interview last year.
“When I asked what was going on, they said I should join them, so I did.”
Saadia was a fourth official for the Syrian Football Association at first, but she had to leave the country in 2012 because of the civil war.
After working for the Football Association of Malaysia, she moved again and started working for the Swedish Football Federation, where she got her international refereeing badge in 2016.
Later this year, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand.
In the fall of this year, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand. Images from Getty
The secretary general of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Firas Abu Hilal, said that she is the first Palestinian to be a referee at the World Cup.
Hilal said, “She is also one of the first Arab women referees to take part in an official tournament at this level. She has shown that Palestinian women can be successful in any field.”
“Saadia shed a lot of blood and tears before she was chosen.
“In coordination with the PFA, she was able to get a lot of experience in the fields of fitness and officiating soccer games.
“Palestinian women who want to be successful and great should look up to her as an example.”
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20. Saadia will work there.