When Janet Fewings, an amateur soccer league referee in southwest England, started showering with the men players last fall, word spread quickly. In addition to the pesky British tabloids, reporters from as far as Los Angeles pursued the story. With Christmas fast approaching, three of Fewings's four children handed her a list of the presents they wanted: a garden shed, a motorbike, a holiday to somewhere warm. "They were counting on the thousands of pounds which could have been made from nude photographs," she says.

When Fewings, 42, informed her children that she was not that kind of woman, she says they cut up her refereeing uniforms, boots and photos of her in action--on the field, that is. Irate wives and girlfriends of players demanded that Fewings be kept out of the showers. The East Devon Football Association fined her 15 pounds (about $24) for bringing the game into disrepute. Then, in January, she was relieved of her duties as a $14-per-match referee. Although the East Devon FA cited Fewings's overzealousness in handing out red and yellow cards, she suspects that her shower capers may have influenced the decision.

Fewings says she took three showers with "the lads" because no facilities were available for women. "The first time, after the game, I went back to the spare room I changed in only to find another team there," she says. "I said to the team, 'I was here first.' The lads said, 'We'll shift to one end, and you can dress over here.' Then they said, 'You're looking totally exhausted. You look like you could do with a shower.'"

While that sounds like a B-movie pickup line, Fewings says nothing went on other than normal shower chatter. "They treated me with so much respect," she says. "I grew up very open-minded. A lot of the girls I grew up with come from communes. Among them, a lot of my showering would have been ignored."

Fewings is hoping to regain her refereeing card by taking an exam before the end of the summer. Then? "They want women to change after the game in their cars, but what am I going to do?" she asks. "I don't own a car."

--Ian Thomsen

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