Former New Zealand captain Rebecca Smith has been recruited by a refereeing body to help improve officiating standards for the professional women’s game in the United Kingdom.
Smith, who led the Football Ferns to FIFA World Cup and Olympic tournaments, has been appointed to provide a player perspective.
She will join the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL), a body formed in 2001 to improve refereeing standards across the three organisations that fund it — the English Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association.
Smith won the European Champions League with German club Wolfsburg in 2013 and has been appointed to PGMOL by its women’s select group director Bibiana Steinhaus-Webb, the first woman to referee in Germany’s Bundesliga.
“We are on an amazing journey,” Steinhaus-Webb told UK Sky Sports’ Inside the WSL programme.
“Everybody wants to develop the women’s game as much as possible and us as referees want to keep up with it and develop ourselves in the best way possible.
“We are at a stage where all the needs to step up within the PGMOL, within the professionalism of the game, the demands on the referees are so much bigger than before. So we are having regular online meetings, the fitness surgery is outlined so the officials have to work incredibly hard to meet the standards all the time.”
Smith, who played for professional clubs in Sweden, Australia and Germany, has also developed her off-field career since retiring as a defender. She has managed women’s competitions for FIFA.
She starts her new role in the UK summer.
Main photo: Former Ferns skipper Rebeccca Smith. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.