Howard Webb reveals how dinner with Bibi Steinhaus led to his divorce

World Cup final referee Howard Webb reveals he took his fellow official – and now-wife – Bibi Steinhaus for dinner on a layover in Frankfurt while he was still married to his ex, before leaving her and three kids to move to Germany

  • Howard Webb divorced his wife and is now in a relationship with Bibi Steinhaus
  • Both were referees, and they met in 2013 before a dinner changed their lives
  • Webb invited Steinhaus out for a meal while on an eight-hour layover in Germany
  • Afterwards, he broke up with his wife and moved to Germany with Steinhaus 

Former World Cup final referee Howard Webb has lifted the lid on his relationship with fellow official Bibi Steinhaus and explained how their chance dinner date led to him leaving his wife to start a new life in Germany.

Webb and Steinhaus are two of the most famous referees in world football, with the Brit having overseen nearly 300 Premier League matches, and Steinhaus taking charge of the 2011 Women’s World Cup final and games at the 2012 Olympics. 

They didn’t know each other until 2013 when they met at a seminar in Rome, and it was in 2015 when Webb made the decision to invite Steinhaus out for dinner.

Former referee Howard Webb poses with his wife – and fellow top official – Bibi Steinhaus

Webb (left) split up with 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)

While on an eight-hour layover in Frankfurt one Sunday, the now 50-year-old got in touch with the German and asked if she would like to meet.

Steinhaus explains that it wasn’t as simple as just saying ‘yes’.

‘To be fair, I would not have made the effort going all the way from Hannover to Frankfurt, which is three and a half hours, to meet you for dinner,’ she told Futbol with Grant Wahl. ‘Probably not.’

‘Today I would say, ‘What a chance!’ But I have to say, six years ago I would probably not have thought about that. Anyway, it ended up that I had a match on Sunday in Frankfurt, totally by chance. And I said, ‘Seven o’clock is fine. I have final whistle at five. I can make that, no problem.”

The first picture 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 that same day, Steinhaus refereed a men’s Bundesliga match and after sending off Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Kerem Demirbay, he told her: ‘Women have no place in men’s soccer,’ for which he later received a five-game ban.

The evening carries fonder memories though, with the pair hitting it off at dinner, and Steinhaus admitting that after Webb left for the airport, ‘this was the moment I realised the world was different’.

Shortly after, Webb told his wife Kay and their three children that he was moving to Hannover to live with Steinhaus.

Of his marriage, he explains: ‘Our relationship had changed, but we’re still fine now, and it’s okay. The kids are fine. But like any breakup, it’s painful. [My relationship with Steinhaus] didn’t come out in the media [for a year], but Bibi and I weren’t hiding it.’ 

Steinhaus referees the German Super Cup match between Bayern and Dortmund in 2020

The pair, who also both worked as police officers, got married in March of this year, six years after their relationship began to blossom.

Due to Covid restrictions, no guests or witnesses were allowed at the ceremony but afterwards Steinhaus told German TV station Sport 1: ‘We are incredibly happy.’

She revealed to Bild in April: ‘We got married during the last international break and are very happy.

‘Unfortunately, due to the Corona regulation, Howard and I could only take this important step as a pair. Not even witnesses were allowed.

‘Of course there was no honeymoon either.’

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