FIFA has selected the first female officials for the Men’s World Cup

The Qatar World Cup would always be the first World Cup. For the first time the most watched sporting event will be held in the Middle East. For the first time he will play in November and December. And now it could be the first World Cup among men in which a woman is a referee.

On Wednesday, FIFA named three women among the 36 referees who were selected to officiate the competition and three other assistants in the group that run the line at the one-month tournament. The most likely candidate for the lead role among the three is Stephanie Frapart, a French woman who has broken many barriers in European football.

Frapart, who has been on the list alongside Rwandan and Japanese women referees, has an excellent reputation in European football, becoming the first woman to referee men in the Champions League, French top division and World Cup qualifiers. He made history again earlier this month when he led the French Cup final.

Frapart was also selected to join the refereeing teams at last summer’s European Championships, but his role was limited to a fourth official, function beyond the bench between opposing teams.

Announcing the selection of referees, FIFA may now look to take another step. Salim Mukansanga from Rwanda and Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan join Frappart in the refereeing team. They and other officials heading to the World Cup will attend workshops to prepare for the 32-team event.

“This is the end of a long process that began a few years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA junior and senior men’s tournaments. In this way, we clearly emphasize that quality is important to us, not gender, “said Pierluigi Colina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee.

North American women were also selected to participate in the tournament as assistant referees. Catherine Nesbitt, who now plays regularly in major league football, has been joined by Mexican Karen Diaz Medina. Also included is Neuza Back from Brazil.

For FIFA, the involvement of more women on and off the pitch is becoming increasingly relevant in the face of growing sport and a growing global interest in women’s football. More money is invested in the development of players and match officials than ever before. Colina said this will help women referees see and engage in a less talked about topic than remains today.

“I hope that in the future, the selection of officials for elite women’s matches in important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal and will no longer be sensational. “They deserve to be at the FIFA World Cup because they are always performing at a high level and that is an important factor for us,” he said.

Still, the environment and focus on female officials can be tough. Frapart met with a flurry of offensive messages on social media before and after the French Cup match, in a game he won on penalties.

Frapart said before the game that he stays away from social media and rarely reads the press.

“Personally, I’m focused on what ‘s happening on the pitch and I’m not paying attention to controversies or discussions about my play,” he said.

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