For what was certainly not the first time in her life, German referee Bibiana Stenhaus didn't want to be selected to officiate the final of a major tournament in which she was picked as one of the referees. However, when her home country of Germany went down in the quarterfinals, she became the top candidate to preside over the final of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup final between the United States and Japan, which she will do today.
Stenhaus is widely recognized as one of the absolute best female referees in the world. She started her career as an official in the Frauen-Bundesliga, one of the top women's professional leagues in the world, but she eventually moved on to men's professional football. She has presided over 31 games in the men's 2.Bundesliga, the second division of men's soccer in Germany, and she was named a full-time official for that league starting with the 2011-12 season.
Both the USA's 2-0 win over North Korea and Brazil's 3-0 win over Equatorial Guinea were refereed by Stenhaus earlier in the tournament. Unsurprisingly, both games were called very well and it would be surprising if any incident regarding officiating put a damper on what should be a great final.
For all of our coverage of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup semifinals and how the two teams got to the final, give our Sweden vs. Japan and USA vs. France StoryStreams a read. For all of our previous coverage of the tournament, check out our 2011 Women's World Cup section. For more on the final, bookmark this StoryStream. We'll have updates in the build-up to the game. You can catch the game on Sunday at 2:45 P.M. ET on ESPN. We'll have more information on the schedule of events and where to watch as the game approaches.