Uruguayan referee gets ready for her 2nd Women’s World Cup
Uruguayan referee Claudia Umpierrez comes from a soccer family, with a dad who coached, an uncle who played professionally and a grandfather who was an official, and though she told EFE she never planned to follow in their footsteps, now, at 35, she is getting ready to referee her second Women’s World Cup.
She recalled that she played soccer until age 16, when she decided to accompany her aunt in a refereeing course, but wasn’t accepted because she was underage.
Finally in 2003, when she left her native city of Pan de Azucar in southeastern Uruguay and settled in Montevideo to study law, she was able to go ahead with her idea.
“I heard there was a course in refereeing, which attracted me more than anything because after learning the rules, I could start making some money to live on. My parents were obviously paying for my rent, my food, etc., so it would be a way to help them out,” she said.
After finishing the course in 2004, she started refereeing in youth leagues.
“I did four years in the fourth division, I was promoted to third where I did just one year, then six years in the second and now this is my third year in Uruguay’s first division,” Umpierrez said.
The Uruguayan says that entering the international realm in 2010 was a game changer for her career, since in 2012 she was asked to be a referee in the U-17 World Cup of Azerbaijan and began the process that took her to the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Now, four years later and with the confirmation of her designation for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, the Uruguayan said she is living “a wonderful dream, totally unexpected.”
“When I finished the World Cup of Canada, which was in the quarterfinals, I never thought I’d do it again,” she said.
Five months before the start of her next World Cup, Umpierrez said that some time ago she promised her parents that if called upon, she would provide them with tickets to come see her in some of the soccer matches.
She also hopes her husband and daughter can be with her.
“When I went to Canada (my daughter) was only 1 year old and she didn’t even realize I was gone. I was the one who missed her most, and being away for 42 days seemed like such a long time. But now we both feel it’s a long time when I’m away,” she said.
Despite that, she believes that when her little girl “gets bigger,” she will understand that “when you love something, you have to get moving and work hard and do everything” to achieve it.
Umpierrez said that despite people yelling at her from the stands, she has never felt insulted because of her gender and that she’s very glad that more women keep signing up for the refereeing course.