Last month, the Israeli Football League (IFL) alluded to the fact that one of its referees was currently transitioning. On Tuesday, they held a press conference to support its 27-year-old referee Sagi Berman officially coming out in transition to Sapir Berman, making her the first transgender referee in Israel’s Football League.
Berman has been in the Referees Association since she was 17, starting young and growing skilled. Today, Berman is one of the league’s top referees, having received a promotion last year. In recent months, she has been cast as the fourth string due to recent hormone treatments, in preparation for transition surgery. She has received a separate dressing room and the IFL is in full support, currently in talks with FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations to discuss best practices to acknowledge transgender shifts.
Berman has received notes of support from other soccer teams for her courage and openness. She says, “Football being such a masculine sport delayed my decision a bit. I didn’t know how it would be received. In the end, however, the reactions were mostly positive. I receive lots of love on social media, be it from people wishing me all the best or people who see me as an ambassador. They give me lots of strength.”
The IFL has also shown admirable support, holding a press conference on Tuesday, and publicly announcing about “soccer referee Sagi Berman, who has courageously decided to change his gender to female. Sagi chose the name Sapir and should be addressed as female.”
#BREAKING #LGBT news from #Israel: Sagi Berman, a Premier League Football referee, is transitioning from male to female and changing her name to Sapir. She will be the first transgender referee in the nation’s history, Israel Football association announces @kann_news 🏳️🌈🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/bW63NHDG6x
— Ittai Shickman | איתי שיקמן (@ittaishick) April 25, 2021