Gothia Cup

FIFA referee Maral Mirzai: "More people should dare to start refereeing"

Maral Mirzai from Borås is a referee in Damallsvenskan, the highest division in Sweden. She refereed this year's final in the Swedish Cup between Hammarby and BK Häcken and is a new FIFA referee.

Maral Mirzai dreams of refereeing a championship in the future - and also hopes that we will soon see more female referees in the sport.

On weekdays, she works as a hospital physicist. In the spring of 2014, she attended her first refereeing course.
– I was persuaded by a student to sign up for the refereeing course. It was not an obvious choice. I played football and didn't understand why I should be the one standing in the center circle when I'd rather play, but when I got injured I gave it a chance, says Maral Mirzai.

She thrives in her role as referee.
– There are many things that are fun, but the very best thing is that you are constantly challenged because no match is the same.
It is not unusual for a referee's career to take off during Gothia Cup. Maral herself has refereed the tournament a number of times.
– My funnest memories were the community you built up with the other referees, the experience of refereeing so many different teams and the funnest of all that I got to be a referee in the G16 final, she says with a smile.

The final she mentions was at Gamla Ullevi in 2015.
– It was a fantastic feeling! It was the first time I had ever refereed in such a large arena and you really got a taste of the professional atmosphere. Of course there was some nervousness, but just like it can do today, it's not something you think about when you go out on the field and blow the first whistle.
The tasks have become bigger and bigger, like the cup final at Tele2 Arena this summer. She is a new FIFA referee, which is a milestone for the 32-year-old.
– Absolutely! A small dream of becoming a FIFA referee grew along the way when I started refereeing a little higher up.
She talks about her short- and long-term goals in her role:
– Some goals that I hope to achieve in my career are to referee a match in the Women's Champions League and the dream of a championship is also always there. Nationally I hope to reach division 1 for men.

Both in Sweden in general and in Gothia Cup there are few female referees. Why do you think more girls should start refereeing and how do you think we can get more girls to want to be referees
Above all, I think that more people should dare to start refereeing. It may sound off-putting at first, just like it did for me, but I definitely think you should give it a shot. It's fun at the same time as you constantly develop your personality. How to get more people to be referees is a difficult question. I would say that I believe in having role models and it's even more important to keep everyone who starts refereeing by supporting and developing them, says Maral Mirzai.

The refereeing team in the G16 final at Gamla Ullevi in 2015. From left: Roberto Incorvaia, Maral Mirzai, Danial Savari and Robin Drakenhammar.

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