The announcement that Stephanie Frappart will become the first female official to be involved in a men's UEFA European Championship is the latest landmark moment in women’s refereeing.
Although Frappart was not named among the 18 referees set to take charge at this summer’s tournament, she will be involved as a support match official. This will see the Frenchwoman take up the role of either fourth official or reserve assistant referee.
Frappart has been a trailblazer for female officials, becoming the first woman to referee a men’s Champions League match, a men’s World Cup qualifier, and a French Lique 1 game. She also has experience in refereeing the biggest women’s matches around, including the World Cup final between the United States and France in 2019.
Her inclusion on the list of referees confirmed for this year’s Euros is just the latest step forward for female officials in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, Rebecca Welch made history after she became the first woman to oversee a game in the English Football League. She was referee for Harrogate Town's fixture against Port Vale in League Two.
Welch had previously officiated in the Women’s Super League, also acting as a referee for the 2017 and 2020 Women’s FA Cup final. She began to referee men’s National League games in 2018.
After the match between Harrogate Town and Port Vale, both managers called for an increase of female officials in football.
"Hopefully it's just par for the course that we see female referees and officials in the EFL,” Harrogate’s Simon Weaver said. “It's about time.”
PGMOL to oversee WSL and Championship referees
After Welch's appearance in the EFL came good news for referees in women’s football.
The FA confirmed the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) – the body responsible for match officials in English professional football – will oversee the management of referees in the Women’s Super League and Championship from next season.
All officials in the top two flights of women’s football are part time, but there are concerns that refereeing is falling behind the standards required for the full-time players. Although the agreement with the PGMOL will not make referees in women’s football professional, it is a step closer to this goal.
England’s top referees in the women’s game will now gain access to the same facilities, training and support that those in the men’s game receive.
“The women’s game has moved on significantly over the last few years and we must ensure that our referees are provided the right environment to move with it,” said Kelly Simmons, the FA's director of the women's professional game.
“We have a highly dedicated and passionate pool of officials, and the time is now right that their development opportunities align with that of the men’s professional game.”
Here's to more trailblazing moments for female referees.News Now - Sport News