March 5 (UPI) — The NFL hired Maia Chaka as a gameday official for the upcoming season, making her the first Black woman to join the league’s on-field officiating staff.
“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said in a statement released by the league. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”
Chaka will join current official Sarah Thomas as the only women to officiate an NFL game. The league hired Thomas in 2015, and she was part of the crew that worked Super Bowl LV last month.
The NFL updates its roster of officials each year due to retirements, departures and position changes within its existing group. Replacements are traditionally chosen from the league’s officiating development program, which is made up of referees from various levels. Chaka joined that program in 2014.
“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance — including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program — have earned her a position as an NFL official,” Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field.”
The complete list of NFL officials for the 2021 season hasn’t been finalized.