Transgender football referee writes Israeli sports history

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© Reuters. Sapir Berman directs an Israeli Premier League football match in Haifa

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HAIFA, Israel (Reuters) – Sapir Berman made sports history on Monday, serving in a football game in the Israeli Premier League for the first time since retiring as a transgender.

“This is the first step in a long and wonderful journey. Sapir, we are proud to do it with you,” the Israel Football Association tweeted as they stepped onto the field for the match between Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa.

At a press conference last Tuesday at which she publicly announced her move, Berman, already a top referee in Israel’s premier football league at the age of 26, said she had always seen herself as a woman from a young age.

She told reporters that the players had already started using the feminine form of the words in Hebrew when they addressed them.

“They really feel like they want to be part of this process somehow and even want to talk to men if not necessary and talk to me as a woman. So thank you,” said Berman.

In front of the stadium in the northern city of Haifa, a fan carried a banner celebrating Berman as “super woman, incredible, brave”.

Berman isn’t the first transgender referee in the football world. A British soccer referee, Lucy Clark, came out transgender in 2018.

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