Turkish Football Federation strips referee’s FIFA badge due to pregnancy

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has removed Betül Nur Yılmaz from the list of FIFA-eligible referees despite the association’s invitation after learning about her pregnancy. Yılmaz is preparing to take the decision to the ECHR, saying it was “sexist and discriminatory.”

Duvar English

Turkish football referee Betül Nur Yılmaz is preparing to take the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for its decision to remove her FIFA badge after learning about her pregnancy. 

Yılmaz received an invitation from FIFA to ref a tournament to be held in Belgium in the summer of 2023, according to May 16 reporting by the daily BirGün

During training sessions in Belgium, Yılmaz felt unwell and a medical examination revealed that she was pregnant.

Yılmaz reported her condition to the Referee Affairs Directorate and requested to suspend her refereeing duties with the TFF due to her pregnancy. When the directorate informed FIFA about the situation, UEFA Referees Committee Chairman Roberto Rosetti sent Yılmaz a congratulatory email, expressing his desire to see her back on duty as soon as possible. 

However, the TFF decided that her pregnancy and responsibilities as a mother would make it difficult for her to continue as an active FIFA referee and did not include Yılmaz in the FIFA referees list prepared in January 2024.

Yılmaz objected to being removed from the FIFA referee list due to her pregnancy, noting that male referees could suspend their refereeing duties during military service. 

She appealed to the arbitration board, where three out of seven members voted in her favor, while four voted against her. 

The TFF denied the allegations regarding Yılmaz and maintained that their decision was based on the referee’s yearly performance. 

However, Yılmaz revealed that she had received scores above 8 (prolific performance) in all the matches she reffed in the year. In Europe, pregnant female referees can remain on the list for two years.

Yılmaz shared that she suffered psychological problems after being ostracized from her profession due to her pregnancy. She felt as if she was being punished for being pregnant, said the referee.