Stéphanie Frappart to make history as the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match


When the referee generates an inches column, it is usually an indictment of his performance; The result of an uproar after a controversial decision.

But Stephanie Frappart’s traditional anonymity was broken for a different reason — she will make history on Thursday as the first woman to officiate a men’s World Cup match.

Along with assistants Noiza Pak of Brazil and Karen Diaz of Mexico, the Frenchwoman will form part of an all-female refereeing trio officiating Costa Rica against Germany in their Group E match.

Six referees for this World Cup were officiated – referees Frappart, Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita, as well as assistant referees Buck, Diaz and Catherine Nesbitt from the United States.

FIFA announced his appointment back in May, when Frappart found out she was going to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

“It’s such a surprise, you can’t believe it and two or three minutes later, you realize you’re going to the World Cup. It’s amazing, not only for me, but also for my family and also for the French referees,” she told CNN Sport.

Throughout her career, Frappart has made a seemingly endless string of starts.

Stephanie Frappart will officiate a UEFA Champions League group match between Real Madrid and Celtic in November.

In 2019, she became the first referee to officiate a Ligue 1 match, in August 2019, the first to officiate a men’s major European match, and in 2020, the first to officiate a men’s UEFA Champions League match.

“I knew my life changed after 2019 because most people recognized me on the street,” Frappart recalls.

“So I’m like a role model for women referees but I think so [also] She inspired some women in society or in companies to take on more and more responsibility.”

At these World Cups, Frappart was the fourth official on two occasions – becoming the first woman to officiate in a men’s World Cup match in Mexico against Poland. Mukasanga and Yamashita have been the fourth official in two and four World Cup matches, respectively.

But there is a clear tension between these historic moments of gender equality in football and the place where it happens because women’s rights are so severely restricted in Qatar.

According to Amnesty International, women remain tied to their male guardians in Qatar—usually a father, brother, grandfather, uncle or husband—and require their consent to make important decisions such as marriage, access to reproductive health care, and employment in many government jobs.

CNN has reached out to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) for comment but at the time of publication had not received a response.

“I’ve been to Qatar several times… to prepare for the World Cup, I’ve always been given a good welcome. I don’t know how life is but I haven’t made the decision to go there or to organize the World Cup,” says Frappart.

“Now, 10 years later, it’s hard to say something, but I hope that… this World Cup will improve the lives of women there.”

At the World Cup, on the biggest stage in football, the pressure of match refereeing is at its peak.

A referee may make 245 decisions in a single match, Sky Sports estimates, and if only one of them is wrong, it will be analyzed in microscopic detail.

It could change the course of the game, or even the World Cup for the team – denying them a title or ensuring they don’t advance further in the tournament.

“When you make a mistake it’s more important than when you make a mistake — there are more consequences for teams,” says Frappart. “It’s also easy to say it’s the referee’s fault and not our team’s fault, so that’s when you lose.”

As referees work their way up the game, that pressure changes.

“It’s more than the media and [about] Money because you know that every decision is important and will make a difference for the team.” “But when you start in local clubs, it is more difficult with the spectators and with the environment.”

Stephanie Frappart speaks to the players during Qatar's FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match between the Netherlands and Latvia in March 2021.

Inevitably, female referees also come under intense scrutiny because they are in two fields that have traditionally been dominated by men: soccer and leadership.

“There were so many questions asked if she was there because she’s a woman, maybe she wouldn’t be following the game and everything,” Frapart recalls when she made her Ligue 1 debut.

“It’s not just in football, but I think in every job when you’re a woman… you have to prove you have the quality and then they let you continue.”

As Frappart officiated more matches, however, the attitude towards it changed.

“Now, it’s not a question of gender. It’s now just a question of steel, [about] competencies. So now it’s ok, after a game or two they left me alone and without any other media. ”

When Frappart first started playing soccer at the age of 10 in 1993, women’s soccer hardly registered as a milestone on the sports scene.

The inaugural Women’s World Cup was held just two years ago, to great success in China, but there was no UEFA Women’s Champions League nor National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States, and no female referees. -Existing.

It was only in 2017 when Bibiana Steinhaus took charge of a Bundesliga match that a woman officiated a men’s league match at the highest level.

Costa Rica’s Luis Fernando said the appointment of Frapart to referee the men’s World Cup is another step forward in a “very sexist sport”.

He added, “It is very difficult to reach the point I have reached, I think it is a good thing for football and a positive step for football, to show that it is open to everyone.”

Similarly, in Rwanda, Mukansanga recalls, she did not see a female referee to use as a role model for her own aspirations.

“I worked hard and followed the dreams of guys because they were the people around me,” she told CNN Sport.

“They are all men. We had one World Cup referee here in Rwanda who went to two World Cups so he inspired me a lot and I kept working hard to be like him.”

Salima Mukansanga became the first woman to officiate a CAN match in January 2022.

With women refereeing and Qatar’s World Cup matches broadcast to huge audiences around the world, Frapart hopes to encourage more women to pick up the whistle.

That change has already begun – in the UK alone, there has been a 72% increase in qualified referees between 2016 and 2020, according to the Football Association.

“So if you have more referees on TV, maybe it’s easier for women to say, ‘Okay, it’s possible.’ Because if you don’t know if it’s possible for us, you can’t say, ‘Okay, I want to be a referee.'”


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