Heba Saadieh becomes first Palestinian referee at World Cup

She started her refereeing career in Syria, but in March 2012, war forced her to flee.

Heba Saadieh became the first-ever Palestinian to officiate a match during the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The 34-year-old referee take part in the ninth edition of the Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, which started from Thursday, July 20, and will go on until Sunday, August 20.

She was an assistant referee in the England-China match at the end of the World Cup Group D competitions on Tuesday, August 1.

MS Education Academy

“I’m so proud to be the first-ever Palestinian referee, male or female, in the World Cup,” Saadieh told Al Jazeera.

Taking to X, formerly known as Twitter on Tuesday, AFC wrote, “Heba Saadieh created history by becoming the first ever Palestinian woman to be appointed as #FIFAWWC match official!.”

Saadieh, was born to Palestinian parents in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. She studied physical education at Damascus University. 

She started her refereeing career in Syria, but in March 2012, war forced her to flee to Malaysia.

Saadieh later moved to the Swedish capital, Stockholm, where she obtained a FIFA referee license.

In 2016 she obtained the international referee badge.

Saadieh has officiated for several international tournaments, including the Olympic Games qualifiers, the Women’s World Cup qualifiers and the Asian Football Confederation Cup.

She is also a physical education teacher but is currently focusing full-time on refereeing and aims to become one of the top referees in soccer.

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