May 20 – In a historic first, Stéphanie Frappart of France, Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan, three women, have been chosen among the 36 referees to officiate at the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA announced on Thursday.
Neuza Back of Brazil, Mexico’s Karen Díaz Medina and Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States were picked in the group of assistants that will run the line and flag for offside in the tournament. In total, FIFA selected 69 match officials.
“This concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees a FIFA men’s junior and senior tournaments,” said FIFA’s head of refereeing Pierluigi Collina.
“In this way, we clearly emphasise that it is quality that counts for us and not gender. 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. They deserve to be at the FIFA World Cup because they constantly perform at a really high level, and that’s the important factor for us.”
Frappart is a trailblazer in European football, having led the 2019 Women’s World Cup final between the United States and the Netherlands. She became the first female referee in Ligue 1. Frappart has also been in charge of a men’s European Super Cup and men’s World Cup qualifiers.
Yamashita, 36, is one of the leading referees in Asia, having refereed in the J1 League, the Women’s Asian Cup and the Asian Champions League. Rwanda’s Mukansanga has officiated at the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, the CAF Women’s Champions League and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She made history earlier this year when she presided over Zimbabwe vs Guinea in the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Two referees were picked from each of Argentina, Brazil, England and France. FIFA also selected controversial referee Janny Sikazwe of Zambia, who led a chaotic match between Tunisia and Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations. He blew full-time in the 86th minute only to allow play to resume before blowing the full-time whistle again with 13 seconds left on the clock, infuriating the Tunisians. Gambia’s Bakary Gassama will go to his third World Cup finals.
“The pandemic affected our activities, in particular in 2020 and at the beginning of 2021,” explained Collina.
“Luckily, the World Cup was still quite far, and we had enough time to provide the candidates with good preparation. We are announcing these selections well in advance as we want to work even harder with all those who have been appointed for the FIFA World Cup, monitoring them in the next months. The message is clear: don’t rest on your laurels, keep working hard and prepare yourselves very seriously for the World Cup.”
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