In a breakthrough for gender equality, FIFA confirmed Thursday that female referees will officiate a men’s World Cup for the first time at this year’s edition in November.
World soccer’s governing body will assign three female refs — Stéphanie Frappart of France, Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda, and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan — to officiate games in the upcoming tournament in Qatar.
“We clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender,” said Pierluigi Collina, FIFA’s head of refereeing.
It’s long overdue, and all three refs have earned their stripes.
- Frappart became the first female official of a French Ligue 1 match in 2019 and oversaw the men’s UEFA Super Cup Final between Liverpool and Chelsea.
- Mukansanga officiated the Africa Women Cup of Nations, the CAF Women’s Champions League, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
- Yamashita became the first female referee of a J1 League game in May 2021 and has taken a lead role in matches for the Women’s Asian Cup.
In addition, there will be three female assistant refs in Qatar, contributing to what Collina sees as a clear first step toward parity.
“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,” Collina added.