When Bundesliga referee Deniz Aytekin (43) posts on Instagram, 29,000 followers see it. His colleague Patrick Ittrich (43) brings it to 19,000. Karolina Bojar-Stefanska (24), on the other hand, to just under 170,000.
Karolina … wer?
In 2018, the English newspaper “Sun” named the Pole the most beautiful referee in the world. Since then she has had fans in every corner of the world.
She answered BILD’s interview request in German, just like the questions.
Why do you speak German so well?
Karolina Bojar-Stefanska: “Thanks! Actually, I have a lot in common with Germany. I was in a German class at high school, where I passed DSD level II (German language diploma at level C1). I also took part in many student exchanges, for example in Erding next to Munich and Leipzig. After graduating from high school, I also spent a few months in Vreden, a small town near the Dutch border.”
After being voted the most beautiful referee in the world, you were suddenly famous. How was that for you?
“I wouldn’t say I’m famous. The better statement would be that I’m simply recognized in the football community. I’ve received a lot of support and appreciation, compliments and nice messages lately. It’s amazing that the referee has such support, that he has followers, fans so to speak. Normally, our work goes unnoticed at best. I really appreciate that and thank you for every kind word. At the same time, I know that the interest in me is more related to the fact that I stand out as a young referee and not to my sporting successes. Not yet! I’m working towards being proud of myself and my sporting achievements in the future.”
You would certainly have a future as a model…
I definitely didn’t think about that, although I have to admit that I’ve had offers like this, including a call from a top model agency (laughs). But that’s not my thing at all. In life I need a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and an adrenaline rush, and I find that on the soccer field and in my work as a lawyer.”
So no modeling – what do you do off the pitch?
“I’m an associate. In Poland, you have to do a legal clerkship after five years of law school. It takes three years, and once you have completed your legal traineeship and passed the professional exam, you become a lawyer. I have a law degree and also a degree in intellectual property law and new media law. I specialize in sports law and intellectual property law. In my free time, I like to read Scandinavian crime novels and cook healthy food.”
Was there an offer from Playboy?
Yes (laughs). I declined because my privacy is important to me.
How do players react when you whistle their games? Want the selfies? Do you ever get a cell phone number?
“A woman soothes – that’s a fact, even on the football pitch. Before and after the game the atmosphere is very good, jokes are made, I get compliments. Yes, I accidentally found a card with a phone number in my pocket (laughs). I try to use my gender to my advantage. On the pitch, I’m just myself. I build my refereeing personality around honesty, around who I am – a young, slim, nice but strong character and determined girl. Most of the time the gender difference is reflected in fitness, but I’m a former runner and I’m comfortable in men’s soccer. The players on the field don’t buy duplicity from you, and they expect fairness above all from the referee. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to them whether it’s a man or a woman whistling. The important thing is to do a good job. And that’s great! You don’t have to be a tall, handsome man to be a good referee. At the same time, in order to become a better referee, I don’t want any favors or special treatment – just judge me on the pitch as a referee.”
How does your husband deal with the fact that you are the most beautiful referee in the world? Is he jealous?
“My husband is my greatest support. He is very proud of me and supports me in everything I do. He is a FIFA soccer referee himself and has refereed games at Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt and Union Berlin, among others. He can therefore support me a lot in my development on the field and he shares his experiences with me. We are a good duo, we support each other. We’re happily married, but we’re also best buddies. I love him the most!”
Our TV colleagues often get suggestive photos of men in private messages on Instagram. Does this happen to you too?
They do exist, but they fall under spam, which will be deleted immediately!
Last questions: What do you want your German fans to know about you? Will you be whistling in Germany soon?
Life is unpredictable – who knows? There are such mind games. I can tell you a little secret: If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, I would have officiated games in Asia.