Female football referee Dagmar Damková celebrated in song

Dagmar Damková, foto: ČTK

The song Růže mezi trny, or Rose among Thorns, by the star singer-songwriter Jaromír Nohavica, is a tribute to female football referee Dagmar Damková. On Sunday, she refereed one of the highlights of the season, a game between title contenders Baník Ostrava and Sparta Prague. The match ended in a 1:1 draw, but for many, including big Ostrava fan Jaromír Nohavica, she was the obvious winner for her smooth handling of the heated game. Radio Prague spoke to Dagmar Damková and asked her how she liked the song.

“It’s fantastic, now I really feel like a celebrity [laughs]. I heard the song yesterday, a friend sent it to me over the internet, and I saw the pictures that go with it. Then in the evening, I saw it on TV. It’s wonderful, it’s a nice feeling… I am happy about it.”

Tomáš Řepka,  Dagmar Damková,  photo: CTK
The game between Baník Ostrava and Sparta Prague was one of the highlights of the season – what would you say was the most difficult part about refereeing the match?

“I think one of the most difficult things was keeping my concentration throughout the whole match, and being ready to make hard decisions. But luckily, there were no tough decisions to be made – the yellow card for [Sparta’s defender] Tomáš Řepka was obvious, there was no debate about it. In this way, it was quite easy. One of the things that were not so pleasant came when an empty beer bottle thrown from the audience landed very close to one of the players. That was not very nice because if it had hit him, it would have been big, big trouble. But otherwise, the play was fine.”

Do you think that footballers respect you more than a male referee, and do you think this might have been the reason why you were chosen for this particular game?

“Everybody says that, so it might be true. For me, it’s difficult to say, because I can’t say how they would react to male referees. But everybody says so, and it might have been one of the reasons; the emotions were calm, and the players might have borne in mind that there was a woman, not a man refereeing the game.”

Dagmar Damková,  photo: CTK
You are one of the top football referees in the country. Has it been more difficult for you as a woman to get to the top in such dominantly male sport?

“Yes, definitely. It was not easy at all, because many people still believe this is not a place for women. So I had to overcome many obstacles, which has sometimes been not so easy. I’ve heard a lot of bad words… For men, it’s much easier, because it is a man’s world. On the other hand – when you’re successful, everybody says, ‘it’s easy for you because you are a woman’. But when you don’t do well, the game is bad, and so on, they say, ‘you should go back to the kitchen, go back home’, which is difficult do deal with.”