France’s Stéphanie Frappart will be the first woman to referee a match in the men’s World Cup on Thursday (8 p.m.) at the al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor in Qatar, between Germany and Costa Rica, FIFA announced on Tuesday. She is one of the three women selected among the thirty-six field referees of this World Cup with the Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and the Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita. Three others are on the linesman roster.
At 38, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the logical continuation of a meteoric rise in the career of Stéphanie Frappart. First female referee in the French second division (2014), then in the men’s Ligue 1 (2019), in the European Supercup (August 2019), in the Champions League (December 2020) and in the final of the Coupe de France (May 7) , she will continue to make history on Thursday at al-Bayt Stadium.
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Now very well established in the French and European landscape of arbitration, she had officiated as fourth referee during two meetings of this group stage of the World Cup-2022: Mexico-Poland and Portugal-Ghana. Until then, she had to settle for refereeing world-class matches on … the Fifa video game, which included her in its latest edition. Waiting for reality to catch up with the virtual on Thursday, for a historic first.
“It is a real pleasure and an honor for us women to work with the men for the success of the World Cup.“, reported Salima Mukansanga at the start of the World Cup. “They have been chaining high-flying performances for several years“, greeted the legend of arbitration, the Italian Pierluigi Collina, at the start of the tournament.For us, they are only official referees. And that’s the message I gave them: ‘You’re not here because you’re women, you’re here because you’re Fifa referees‘”, added the president of the Commission of the referees of the world body.
Pioneer Bibiana Steinhaus
“Their designation is the result of a long process that began several years ago, which began with the nomination of women for certain FIFA senior and youth men’s competitions.“, he said again, hoping “that in the future the presence of female referees at high-level men’s competitions (will) be considered the rule rather than the exception“.
Finding a woman in charge of a top-level men’s match is a recent and rare phenomenon. In the major championships, the pioneer was the German Bibiana Steinhaus, the first referee in the Bundesliga between 2017 and 2021. In September 2017, at the whistle of Herta Berlin-Werder Bremen, she became the first woman in the history of football to lead a professional 1st division match in Europe.
The presence of women in match management remains exceptional, even at amateur level. For example, in France, they are only a thousand, or 4% of the contingent of referees, according to figures from the FFF.
Frappart’s rise is the crowning achievement of a campaign launched by the French Football Federation in January 2019, a plan to professionalise elite female referees. The latter provides for “an increase in the human and material resources made available to female officials, a strengthening of their preparation, as well as an evolution of the compensation system, in order to provide them with the best conditions for the exercise of arbitration. “.
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