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History Made With First Woman Referee at World Cup

First woman referree world Cup
Stephanie Frappart will make history as the first woman referee in the World Cup finals at Qatar. Credit: FIFA

French referee Stephanie Frappart will make history as she becomes the first woman to referee at a men’s World cup match between Germany and Costa Rica this Thursday.

The 38-year-old referee will be in charge of today’s match and will lead an all-female on-field team at Al Bayt Stadium alongside assistants Neuza Back a Brazilian and a Mexican Karen Diaz Medina.

Among a total of thirty-six referees in the 2022 Qatar World Cup who were appointed by FIFA back in May six are female and have already officiated at this tournament.

These include Frappart, Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga, and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita as well as assistant referees Back, Diaz, and Kathryn Nesbitt of the US.

However, based on historical records, among all the six, Frappart scoped to the top role of a woman referee in an all-men world cup 2022 in Qatar.

Upon being selected to take part in the 2022 World Cup, Frappart said, “It’s a surprise, you cannot believe it and after two or three minutes, you realize that you are going to the World Cup. It’s amazing, not only for me, but also for my family and also for the French referees.”

Frappart’s historical journey as a referee

Prior to her major assignment as a top official in the Germany – Costa Rica match, Frappart has been spotted in many major soccer matches in which she made history as not only an assistant but also a top referee.

One of her major historical moments was in 2019 when she became the first female referee to take charge of a Ligue 1 match as well in August of the same year, becoming the first to take charge of a major men’s European match between Liverpool and Chelsea.

In March 2021, the French referee also became the first female referee to take charge of a men’s World Cup Qualifier when the Netherlands beat Latvia 2-0 in Amsterdam.

“I knew that my life changed after 2019 because most people recognized me in the street,” Frappart recalls in being asked about her accomplishments.

“So I am like a role model, for women referees but I think it [also] inspired some women in society or in companies to take more and more responsibility,” she added.

Prior to the impending role, last Tuesday, she also officiated as the first female fourth official in a men’s World Cup match, which was between Mexico and Poland.

Having women referees in Qatar World Cup, a strong sign from FIFA

Despite reports from Amnesty International indicating that women remain tied to a male guardian in Qatar, FIFA made a strong decision to include women on the officials’ list.

Upon such a decision, ahead of the start of the tournament, Frappart said she hoped the inclusion of female referees in Qatar would “make things happen” on a broader level.

She said, “It’s a strong sign from FIFA and the authorities to have women referees in that country, [and] I didn’t think about breaking barriers or making history, only doing my job.”

Inflexibility for gender equality in football is evident, and it is more prevalent in Qatar, the host nation of the 2022 World Cup, because women’s rights are severely restricted in the country.

Usually, in Qatar, a woman requires permission from their father, brother, grandfather, uncle, or husband to make important decisions such as marrying, accessing reproductive healthcare, and working in many government jobs.

Therefore, Frappart says she hopes that women refereeing at a top level in Qatar will encourage more women to pick up a whistle in other countries as well.

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