Back Olympic referee: Blowing the whistle on gender-based discrimination in sport


On 10 May 2023 in Strasbourg, Charlotte Girard-Fabre, Secretary General of the International Federation Sports Officials (IFSO) spoke at the launch of the Council of Europe and European Union campaign “All In Plus”, sharing her personal story, and speaking about the broader importance of achieving greater gender equality in sport.

“I am known for being an Olympic referee for ice hockey and a national referee for handball and curling. But I was always a little girl who was passionate about sport. I did a lot of sports, particularly sports considered boys’ sports. Playing boys’ sports was not always easy for me. I was discriminated against for a long time in a sexist manner. “Go and do the washing up or do some knitting little tomboy!”. I didn’t want to be a little tomboy. I wanted to be, and I am, a successful girl. I committed myself; successful girls are committed!”

Through that commitment, Charlotte became Secretary General of the International Federation for Sports Officials, IFSO. IFSO sits on the Consultative Committee of the Council of Europe Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS).

“That is a huge source of strength for me. It gave me a boost of confidence for me because finally the Council of Europe, which seemed very big to me, is very open and diverse”.

Charlotte Girard-Fabre is now helping girls through her own example.

“Today I am building real relationships, a real network and I meet experts every day. That helps me in the fight: to teach girls to say ‛stop’ and say ‛no’, and to find their place in society, whistle in hand”, Charlotte Girard-Fabre concluded.

 Telling the story