Female Referees to Officiate Men’s World Cup for the First Time

Female referees will take charge of matches at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA have announced.

Three female referees and three female assistant referees were announced Thursday among 129 officials selected for World Cup duty, in what will be a first in the history of the tournament.

French referee Stephanie Frappart already officiated men’s games in World Cup qualifying and the Champions League, after handling the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. She also refereed the final of the men’s French Cup this month.

“As always, the criteria we have used is `quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” said FIFA Referees Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina, who was the man in the middle at the 2002 World Cup final. “In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender.”

He added: “I would hope that in the future the selection of elite women’s match officials for important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal and no longer as sensational.”

Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan are the other women on the referee’s list, with Neuza Back of Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States helping make up the 69 assistant referees.

The one controversial selection was male referee Janny Sikazwe of Zambia who ended an Africa Cup of Nations match early this year. He blew the final whistle at a group match after 85 minutes and again 13 seconds before the 90 minutes were complete, with Mali leading Tunisia 1-0.

About 30 minutes after the match, officials ordered the teams back on the field to restart play but Tunisia refused. Despite an official protest by Tunisia, the result was later ratified by the Confederation of African Football.

The match was played in heat and humidity in Cameroon, and Sikazwe later explained he started to become confused in the intense conditions.

The World Cup will be played between November 21st and December 18th.

Sports news editor