The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is set to introduce several significant changes and one of the most important among them is the inclusion of three female referees who will make their debut at a men’s World Cup.
Stephanie Frappart from France, Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita are included among the 36 referees roster to officiate matches during the Qatar World Cup. The trio will be joined by Brazilian Neuza Back, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico and the United States of America’s Kathryn Nesbitt who are part of the 69 assistant referees.
The head of FIFA’s Referees Committee, Pierluigi Collina talked about the inclusion of female referees and stated that the organisation focused on the quality of an official and not gender. Collina said: "We clearly emphasise that it is quality that counts for us and not gender."
The French national Frappart was the first woman to referee in Ligue 1 when she made her debut in 2019. Then in the same year, she was in charge of the women’s World Cup final in her home country. The 38-year-old was also part of the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea. Later she officiated in the Champions League in 2020 and then the French Cup final last season.
Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita became the first female referee in an Asian Champions League match in 2019. She was in charge of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and one of the matches in the 2020 Olympic Games. "It is a big responsibility but I am happy to have it," Yamashita said about being part of the World Cup in Qatar and said that she “never imagined” being handed such an opportunity.
Rwandan Salima Mukansanga was the first woman to officiate a match at the men’s Africa Cup of Nations in January this year. She was also part of the 2019 Women’s World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.