Dorsaf Ganoiati Makes History as the First Arab Woman in a First Division Football Match


As Arab women continue to make major strides within the sports industry, they are also making history with every move they make. A perfect example of the latest noteworthy moment in history is Tunisian referee, Dorsaf Ganoiati, who has just become the first Arab and African woman to referee a men’s first division match as she umpired the final match between Espérance Sportive de Tunis and Club Athlétique Bizertin.

Dorsaf had been known to referee for a number of women’s football games, but this particular men’s first division match happened to be her second time refereeing a men’s game on a professional level – her first was a second division men’s match in 2017, where she was a lead referee.

Refereeing last week in the Tunisian Premier League was a major achievement for the female referee as she spoke to France24 ahead of the match, admitting that she was shocked to have been selected for the job, stating, "I hope some will understand that women can do the job, even better than men sometimes."

Proud of her achievement, fans and players congratulated her efforts. Esperance player, Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhan said, "Fans were putting a lot of pressure on her, but still she was fantastic."

Female ref, Dorsaf began her career in sports as a physical education teacher, and footballer before earning a role as a referee on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association's (FIFA) list of international referees in 2015.

Speaking of her experience in her role, she said, "Some of the players are initially shocked to see a woman referee, but they soon forget about it and focused on their match." Later, in a chat with the BBC last year, Ganoaiti spoke of the pressures of working within a male dominated industry, "When I am given a chance I have to prove myself. If I fail they might not give other women the chance, and if I succeed, I will be given other chances and other women will be as well."

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