On Thursday night at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, fans attending the crunch match between Costa Rica and Germany witnessed a new chapter in football history being written on the football field.
Kicking off the final and final match of Group E, French referee Stephanie Frappart entered the record books as the first woman to take charge of a FIFA World Cup match.
Her appointment was announced by the tournament organizers on Tuesday and means the 38-year-old match official will take her place in the history of the game. Frappart took charge of two games in the qualifiers for the tournament, but her presence at the World Cup itself is an important moment.
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The Frenchwoman was the fourth official in the 0-0 draw between Mexico and Poland in Group C, becoming the first woman to assume the role at a men’s World Cup.
Frappart is no stranger to the biggest stage in the game, having played six games in the last two FIFA Women’s World Cup competitions – Canada 2015 and France 2019.
Frappart was particularly proud to represent France as the FIFA World Cup referee.
“I felt tremendous emotion because I wasn’t exactly expected to be chosen. So (I feel) a lot of pride, a lot of honour, to represent France at the World Cup.”
Frappart said being a referee at the 2022 FIFA World Cup would mean keeping emotions in check to ensure optimal performance on the pitch.
“I think I’m going to have everything around me in mind, and the goal will still be the same, that’s the referee according to the performance on the pitch. So I’m really going into this with huge emotion, but you have to channel that , because the most important thing is clearly the pitch.
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“The first will be all the emotions of returning to the World Cup stadium, full of a big crowd and a lot of expectations. But after that I will be focused on the pitch because we have to make the right decisions and perform well by focusing on the primary goal on the pitch.”
By the way, two other female referees are on the brink of history as they will be appearing at the Men’s Football World Cup in the coming days after Frappart.
Yamashita Yoshimi and Salima Mukansanga have all been named among the 36 referees selected for the tournament, which ends on December 18.
They will also be joined by Brazil’s Neuza Back, Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina and America’s Kathryn Nesbitt, who will be heading into the World Cup as three of the 69 assistant referees. Japan’s Yamashita will compete in the World Cup for the second time in a row after leading the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. She also took the lead at the 2020 Olympic Games, held in 2021, in a match between the USA and Sweden.
Yamashita is also someone who has set her own records on the refereeing front this year. She officiated the AFC Champions League between Melbourne City and Jeonnam Dragons in the FC Tokyo and Kyoto Sanga match of the J1 League – becoming the first female referee to do so.
The 36-year-old is eagerly awaiting the World Cup and her chance to stand on the podium as a match referee.
“There are hardly any female referees in the Middle East, so I would like to see that change, with the Qatar World Cup as a catalyst,” she recently said.
“The fact that there are women in a men’s World Cup for the first time is a sign to other people that women’s potential is always growing and that’s something I feel strongly about too.”
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