- We begin our new ‘Women in Football’ series with referee Riem Hussein
- As a pharmacist, she is feeling the effects of COVID-19 at first hand
- «We’ve been advising, calming and dealing with people and giving them their supplies»
On the pitch, she is «the boss». Her job as a referee is to ensure that players adhere to the Laws of the Game, while she makes decisions that are not always popular and has to mete out disciplinary measures whenever someone is in contravention of the rules. But like everyone else at the moment, Riem is out of action in sporting terms.
«I’m really missing football,» she said in an interview with FIFA.com. «My working life has actually not changed very much. I’ve always had a full-time job away from refereeing, but now I’m missing sporting competition. I’m still obviously training in a very well-balanced way – perhaps more even that I would be during times when there are competitive matches because I can plan my training how I want. Games, travel and other considerations don’t have to be taken into account, so from that point of view, my life has calmed down a little bit.”
When Riem talks of her “working life”, she is referring to her job as a pharmacist. In 2017, the two-time referee of the year teamed up with her brother Fadi and sister Fadwa to take over their father’s pharmacy in the Bad Harzburg spa resort in Germany. Managing to balance her two occupations is not always an easy task. «When I’ve got matches or tournaments that I can plan a long time in advance, it’s no problem,» the 39-year-old explained.
“We work from Monday to Saturday lunchtime and we’re open throughout the day. A pharmacist has to be there at all times for legal reasons, which is a specific element to be taken into consideration when dividing up our working hours, and it’s tough. There are three of us though, and we manage to sort it out pretty well.»
«When I work in the third division as a referee or in Bundesliga 2 as a fourth official, the officials only get their assignments a few days before kick-off, and matches can be played at any time from Friday through to Monday. By then we’ll already have worked out our rosters a long time in advance, so when the assignments come through, that’s when I really have to start planning things.
«I swap shifts around with my brother and sister and try to balance my work and my free time so that no-one gets the short straw in terms of the shifts. I tend to work most of the weekends when I don’t have matches and have time off when I am refereeing. But this organisational stress is something that has quite simply disappeared in recent times.»