Former World Cup final referee Howard Webb has lifted the veil on his relationship with official colleague Bibi Steinhaus and explained how their dinner date led him to leave his wife to begin with a new life in Germany.
Webb and Steinhaus are two of the most famous referees in world football, with the Briton overseeing nearly 300 Premier League matches and Steinhaus taking charge of the 2011 Women’s World Cup final and 2012 Olympics matches.
They didn’t know each other until 2013 when they met at a seminar in Rome, and it was in 2015 that Webb made the decision to invite Steinhaus to dinner.
Former referee Howard Webb poses with his wife – and fellow senior official – Bibi Steinhaus
Webb (left) separated from his wife Kay and left their children to move to Germany with Steinhaus
Webb refereed the World Cup final between Spain and Holland in South Africa in 2010 (above)
During an eight-hour layover in Frankfurt on a Sunday, the 50-year-old contacted the German and asked if she would like to meet him.
Steinhaus explains that it was not as easy as just saying “yes”.
“To be fair, I wouldn’t have made the effort to go from Hanover to Frankfurt, which takes three and a half hours, to meet you for dinner,” she told Futbol with Grant Wahl. ‘Probably not.’
“Today I would say, ‘How lucky! But I have to say that six years ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it. Anyway, it turned out that I had a game on Sunday in Frankfurt, totally by chance. And I said, ‘Seven o’clock is good. I have the final whistle at five o’clock. I can do it, no problem. “
The first photo of Steinhaus and Webb together, at a UEFA seminar in Lisbon in 2014
Webb has refereed nearly 300 matches and was widely regarded as England’s top official
On the same day Steinhaus refereed a men’s Bundesliga match and after expelling Kerem Demirbay from Fortuna Düsseldorf he told him: ‘Women have no place in men’s football’, for which he was subsequently suspended. of five games.
The evening bears fonder memories, however, with the couple getting along well over dinner and Steinhaus admits that after Webb left for the airport, “that’s when I realized the world was. different “.
Shortly after, Webb told his wife Kay and their three children that he was moving to Hanover to live with Steinhaus.
Regarding his marriage, he explains, “Our relationship had changed, but we’re still doing well now, and it’s okay. The children are doing well. But like any breakup, it’s painful. [My relationship with Steinhaus] did not come out in the media [for a year], but Bibi and I weren’t hiding it.
Steinhaus referees German Supercup match between Bayern and Dortmund in 2020
The couple, who also both worked as police officers, tied the knot in March this year, six years after their relationship began to blossom.
Due to Covid restrictions, no guests or witnesses were allowed at the ceremony, but Steinhaus later told German TV station Sport 1: ‘We are incredibly happy.’
She revealed to image in April: “We got married during the last international break and are very happy.
“Unfortunately, due to the Corona rule, Howard and I were only able to take this important step together. Even witnesses were not allowed.
“Of course, there wasn’t a honeymoon either. “