Martina Konig, a pioneer among European female football officials, died Jan. 9 following a battle with breast cancer. She was 42.
Konig was one of two women who served as officials during the 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship. Her interest in football began in 1990 when she attended a game in her native Austria. She soon after started working as a member of a chain crew and went on to call more than 350 games, mostly as a head linesman or line judge.
“It is a male-dominated sport,” Konig said prior to the 2011 men’s tournament. “But if you work really hard, that will show, and will get your chance.”
Konig also was part of the officiating crews at the Austrian Bowl (the Austrian Football League’s championship game) and served as an instructor for new officials in her home country. More than 100 officials studied under Konig – an estimated two-thirds of all active Austrian officials.
“She was a wonderful young lady and a talented and respected official,” said USA Football Rules Editor Bill LeMonner, a veteran college football official who worked as a referee at the 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship. “She will be missed.”
“We are all heartbroken to learn the tragic news about Martina's passing,” said Billy Beckett of Peachtree City, Ga., an Atlantic Coast Conference official who also worked alongside Konig at the Senior World Championship. “We among us can forget her wonderful and patient personality, her easy smile, her obvious joy and love for officiating of course her loving devotion to her son.”
Konig was a member of the Austrian Officiating Board and developed the first clock handling manual in Europe.
She is survived by a 10-year-old son, Gabriel.