Women Referees Storm Qatar World Cup

Stephanie Frappart

Women referees will make World Cup history this year, the first time, in Qatar.

Three women referees and three women assistant referees were announced on Thursday by FIFA among 129 officials selected for World Cup duty, including one man who caused controversy when refereeing a chaotic African Cup of Nations game in January, while experiencing heatstroke.

French referee, Stephanie Frappart, officiated men’s games in World Cup qualifying and the Champions League, after handling the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. She also refereed the final of the men’s French Cup this month.

“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’, and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” said FIFA Referees Committee Chairman, Pierluigi Collina, adding that, “In this way, we clearly emphasise that it is quality that counts for us and not gender.”

Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Japanese official, Yoshimi Yamashita, are also on the list of 36 referees preparing for the 64 games at the tournament, which will be played from November 21 to December 18.

The 69 assistant referees include Neuza Back of Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States.

“I would hope that in the future, the selection of elite women’s match officials for important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal, and no longer as sensational,” Collina said.

Among the men referees is Zambia’s Janny Sikazwe, who blew the final whistle at an African Cup group match after 85 minutes, and again 13 seconds before the 90 minutes were complete, with Mali leading Tunisia 1-0.

FIFA has picked 24 men to work on video reviews. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system made its debut in 2018.

FIFA said 50 referee-and-assistant trios began preparing in 2019 for World Cup duty, with the project affected by limits on international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.