Thursday, 9 September 2021

Historic Day: Referee Ivana Martinčić First Woman to Lead Croatian First League Match

September 9, 2021 - 36-year-old Croatian football referee Ivana Martinčić from Koprivnica will be the first female referee to lead a Croatian First League match. 

The Croatian Football Federation has confirmed that Martinčić will be the head referee this Friday (September 10) in the first match between Gorica and Hrvatski Dragovoljac in the 8th round of the Croatian First League (HNL), reports Jutarnji List.

This will make Croatia the fifth country in Europe where a woman will be the main referee in the football competition's elite class. Women served as main referees at elite matches in France, Wales, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine before Croatia.

"This is a clear example of the direction in which Croatian football is heading, in the spirit of unity, equality, and progress," said HNS.

Ivana Martinčić has been successfully working at the second league level since 2017. In 2018, she refereed the European Under-19 Football Championship final, and in 2015 the European Under-17 Championship final. In June last year, Martinčić was the fourth referee in the Hajduk - Varaždin match. Since 2017, she has refereed Second HNL matches. Since 2019, she has been an elite international referee and is also a candidate for the 2023 Women's World Cup, held in Australia and New Zealand. The head of Croatian football referees, Bruno Marić, has followed Ivana closely and thus decided to give her a chance on the biggest stage. 

HNS president, Marijan Kustić, is very proud to witness the historical moment of the First HNL on Friday.

"It is a great day for Ivana Martinčić, but also the entire HNS. I have often said that we want to keep up with the world on all issues, and this is just one way to show it concretely. We expand our horizons every day, we show our neighbors, but also many in Europe, that we work in all fields, and of course, Ivana deserved such an opportunity with her work. I believe that its success will encourage many, including us in the HNS, to give more attention to women's football in Croatia together," said Kustić.

The president of the HNS Referees Commission, Bruno Marić, is equally proud.

"I think this is a historic day for Croatian refs and the HNS. Opening the First HNL to female referees was part of my program when I ran for the position of President of the HNS Referees Commission. We are entering the world elite in terms of referees in men's football because only four countries - France, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Wales - have female referees at the most elite level of national competition. Ivana Martinčić is thus becoming a serious candidate for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, held in 2023. Ivana also completed her VAR education, and I am especially proud to say that she is probably the only one in the world to run men's referee standards at the last seminar. The region we live in does not have such a referee; we are avant-garde in that respect. I am convinced that Ivana will respond to all the challenges brought by the First HNL. My great mission is to bring Ivana to the point of refereeing men's European matches, and she can certainly do that," concluded Marić.

Other refeees for the Fist HNL 8th round matches: on Saturday, Dinamo and Šibenik play (main referee Tihomir Pejin from Donji Miholjac) and Rijeka and Slaven Belupo (Duje Strukan from Split). Dario Bel from Osijek will referee on Sunday in Pula, where Istra 1961 will meet Hajduk. In the last match of this round, the clash between Lokomotiva and Osijek, the main referee will be Mario Zebec.

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