Sapir Berman, an Israeli transgender referee, is seen during an Israeli Premier League soccer match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem, at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, Israel on May 3, 2021. REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun

HAIFA, Israel – Sapir Berman made sports history on Monday, officiating in an Israeli Premier League soccer match for the first time since coming out as a transgender.

“This is the first stop on a long and wonderful journey. Sapir, we are proud to do it with you, ”the Israel Football Association tweeted as it appeared on the pitch for the contest between Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa.

At a press conference last Tuesday in which she publicly announced her transition, Berman, a 26-year-old already a top referee in Israel’s main football league, said she had always considered herself like a woman, even at a young age.

She told reporters that players have already started using the feminine form of Hebrew words when addressing her.

“They really want to be part of this process in some way or another and even talk to men when it’s not necessary and talk to me as a woman. So thank you, ”Berman said.

Outside the stadium in the northern city of Haifa, a fan carried a banner that hailed Berman as a “super woman, amazing, brave.”

Berman is not the first transgender referee in the world of football. British football referee Lucy Clark became transgender in 2018.


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