Israa Mobaideen on refereeing men’s competitions, early career

2.5 Israa new
(Photo: Handout from the Jordan Football Association)
AMMAN — Refereeing in Jordanian football has usually been a job filled by men, but with the help of people like Israa Mobaideen, that is changing. Being a football player, Mobaideen, has been around sports her entire life. Even so, the path to becoming a referee of professional men’s competitions wasn’t an easy one. اضافة اعلان

It took hard work, dedication, and a little bit of history as well. So, who Israa Mobaideen — the first female to manage a match in the Jordanian Professional League for men — who continues to make game-changing moves on and off the field?

Mobaideen is an internationally certified referee. She supervised qualifier matches at the 2021 AFC Women’s Cup, along with her colleague Islam Al-Abadi. In 2020, the Saudi Football Association also hired the four female Jordanian referees to manage matches in Saudi Arabia’s first women’s football league.

More recently, Mobaideen went down in history as the first female referee to lead an all-female refereeing team and manage a match in the men’s professional league at a match between Sahab and Al-Baqa on Thursday.
The start of a career as a referee.

Mobaideen started managing matches during two years into getting her bachelor’s degree. “While studying sports at Mutah University, I was heavily influenced by my professor, Rehab Al-Ebedat, may her soul rest in peace, and I had to make the decision of quitting the university football team because the rules of the federation” did not allow players to referee matches, she said. 

In pursuing refereeing, Mobaideen took matters into her own hands, and decided very early in her career that her goal of being a head referee in the biggest competitions would come true.

Mobaideen would start small. She began her career as a referee in division three, while managing other youth, and small matches until she worked her way up to division one through hard work, and taking advantage of the opportunities that came her way, she said.

All of her work paid off in the form of heading the 22nd and final round of the Jordanian Professional League, which marked a huge moment in the history of Jordanian football. 

Mobaideen led the first all-female squad to referee a match in the men’s Professional League. “Talks had been around for the whole week, within the walls of the football federation, about a female squad managing the Sahab and Al-Baqaa match,” she said. “I got calls from a lot of people asking if it’s me going to be me.” 

She added that she had already seen all of the comments before the match — both negative and positive. “I always ignore negative comments, especially if they don’t include any actual feedback that can benefit me. Thank God, I think the girls and I performed well, and we are looking forward to take part in more matches next season.” 

Mobaideen also works as a presenter on the program Sabah Sports, in addition to practicing boxing in order to raise her physical fitness, and keep her fit on the pitch. “I’ve always wanted to stay close to sports as much as possible, and working as a sports media person is great way to make a living,” she said.

Mobaideen said that she hopes her recent match will have a positive impact on new referees or girls who are thinking about refereeing. She dedicated the accomplishment to other female referees climbing the ladder. “Being the first to do something is great but we still have to work to make it a normal thing for female referees to take charge of matches at a high level, as the referee is the tool to apply the rules on the pitch and their gender shouldn’t matter,” she said.

Read more Sports