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Carvajal becomes first woman to referee professional men’s match in Chile

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Chile will become the latest country to boast a female referee in men’s professional football, following the announcement by the league (ANFP) that Maria Belen Carvajal will take charge of a second division match this weekend.

Maria Belen Carvajal

The 35-year-old, who was officiating at the recent Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, will referee Sunday’s match between Independiente de Cauquenes and Colchagua.

“I was not expecting it, it was a surprise,” Carvajal said in a statement. “They called me to congratulate me on my efforts in the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay and then they told me I was going to referee in the second division.

“I am happy because I know that the referee’s commission has confidence in me.”

Carvajal, who has already refereed under-17 and under-19 men’s matches, will be on duty at the Women’s World Cup in France next June.

In 2016, Uruguayan Claudia Umpierrez became the first woman to referee a top flight men’s match – River Plate against Boston River.

Last year, Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus became the first to do it in Europe, taking charge of the Bundesliga match between Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen. She refereed eight games and is on the list again this season.

Sian Massey-Ellis has acted as an assistant referee in England’s Premier League since 2010 but has yet to take charge of a game.

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