Three women are scheduled to make history as referees in the next men’s World Cup, hoping that the attention would be on their work rather than their gender.
The 36 referees chosen by FIFA include Stephanie Frappart of France, Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda, and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan. Three more women will serve as assistant referees in Qatar.
The three referees will go to Qatar with assistants Neuza Back of Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico, and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States, who have all proven themselves as officials in men’s soccer.
Pierluigi Collina, the president of FIFA’s Referees Committee, stated while announcing the nominations that “we explicitly emphasize that it is quality that matters for us and not gender.”
After a quick ascent to refereeing at the highest level in Europe, the 38-year-old Frappart saw being chosen for the World Cup as the natural next step.
She officiated the women’s World Cup final in her own nation as well as France’s Ligue 1 for the first time as a woman in 2019.
Frappart officiated the French Cup final last year, the 2020 Champions League, and the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea.
Qatar won’t phase her because of all her expertise.
“Because I didn’t necessarily anticipate this, I am deeply affected. The World Cup is the biggest event of the year, “added Frappart.
Two years younger than Frappart, Yamashita has seen a comparable ascent to the pinnacle of the male game in Japan. In 2019, she became the first woman to officiate an Asian Champions League match.
She left her position as a fitness instructor, which she had had on a part-time basis before to becoming professional, early this year.
Refereeing in the World Cup, Yamashita said to AFP, “is a tremendous responsibility but I am pleased to have it,” adding that she “never dreamed” being given such a chance.
She said that a college buddy “half dragged” her into officiating a match before she finally agreed to become a referee.
While this was going on, Mukansanga, 34, was selected for the World Cup after being the first female match referee at the men’s Africa Cup of Nations in January.
The Rwandan had had dreams of playing basketball professionally, but by the time she was 20 she was already officiating in the domestic women’s league in her own nation.
But none of these six pioneers seeks attention or wants their gender to be a topic of conversation.
“I’ll do all in my power to highlight how beautiful the game of football is. I have no desire for authority or dominance “In a recent interview with FIFA.com, Yamashita remarked.
While this was going on, Frappart, who is admired in France for both her strength and her diplomatic approach, insisted: “Your gender is no longer relevant. It concerns your capacity.”
Despite this, it is not inconsequential that these women are making history in the men’s game at a World Cup being held in Qatar, a nation that has often come under fire for its record on women’s rights.
Frappart, who aspires to set an example for the subsequent generation of female officials, said, “FIFA and the governing bodies are sending out a strong message by having women referees in these nations.
I don’t speak for feminist causes, but maybe this can help things become better.