Shona Shukrula set to be first woman to referee men’s pro games

Shona Shukrula refereeing the women's cup final last weekend. Photo: Gerrit van Keulen ANP

Shona Shukrula has become the first woman to be licenced to referee men’s professional football matches in the Netherlands. 

The 32-year-old from Alkmaar will work in the coming season towards taking charge of her first Keuken Kampioen division match – the second tier of the two-tier Dutch professional competition, the Dutch football association KNVB said on Wednesday. 

Shukrula, who has refereed official amateur KNVB games since the 2009/2010 season has been a fourth official in the first division since 2020 and referees top-level women’s games, including the Champions League. 

She said in a statement on the KNVB website that she is “extremely proud” of her promotion. “I’ve worked very hard for 15 years to get here,” she said. 

Shukrula said she had not had any negative experiences refereeing men’s games in the past. “I want to be judged properly, for my skills,” she said. “Criticism and feedback are part of this. They are inherent in top level sport.”

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