Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery had a light-hearted way of initiating Bibiana Steinhaus into her first season as a Bundesliga referee on Saturday – by playing a prank on her.
Bayern were 3-0 up away to third-tier side Chemnitzer FC in their DFB Cup first round tie when Corentin Tolisso was fouled just outside the penalty area in the 78th minute. As regular dead-ball expert Robert Lewandowski had been substituted off earlier, Ribery grabbed the ball to take the free-kick.
While Steinhaus was preparing to mark out the distance to the wall, the 34-year-old Frenchman bent down, pretending to put the ball in place for the set-piece. However, instead he untied the lace of her right boot.
Watch: Ribery shows his playful side with Steinhaus
It did not go unnoticed by Steinhaus, who reacted by giving Ribery two playful punches on the arm. "She's strong, she's got a lot of power!" said the Bayern no.7 afterwards. "It was funny. She played along and was in good spirits. You can have fun with referees but it's also important that there's mutual respect."
Ribery's good mood improved further just moments later when he converted the free-kick with a superb curling effort into the top corner to put Bayern 4-0 up. Mats Hummels rounded off a comfortable victory for Carlo Ancelotti's side by adding a fifth in the 89th minute.
It was not the first time that Steinhaus, who will become the first female referee ever to officiate in the Bundesliga this season, has dealt with a member of the Bayern camp during a match.
In 2014 she was the fourth official when the Bavarians faced Borussia Mönchengladbach, and expertly shrugged off then coach Pep Guardiola, who was animatedly remonstrating with her on the touchline.
Steinhaus, who is a police officer, has officiated 80 Bundesliga 2 matches to date, and also refereed the women’s gold medal match between Japan and the United States at the London Olympic games in 2012.