Qatar World Cup to feature female referees for first time in history

Qatar World Cup female referees

Female referees are set to officiate at the men’s World Cup for the first time in its 92-year history.

Three women have been listed among the 36 officials selected by FIFA to take charge of the matches in Qatar later this year.

France’s Stéphanie Frappart, Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda, and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita will become the first women to officiate at a men’s international tournament.

These trailblazers have been leading the way for female football officials for several years now, with all three already holding their own personal piece of history.

Frappart rose into the spotlight in 2019 after becoming the first woman to officiate a major men’s European match, as well as a Ligue 1 fixture. In 2020, she became the first female referee to take charge of a men’s Champions League match and last year, she officiated a men’s World Cup qualifier, once again marking herself down as the first woman to do so.

Frappart has since been in charge of other Ligue 1 games and she is the three-time consecutive winner of the IFFHS World’s Best Woman Referee award.


Mukansanga has an impressive officiating portfolio, having refereed at the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics, amongst other competitions.

The Rwandan marked a huge milestone earlier this year when she became the first woman to officiate at the men’s African Cup of Nations.

Similarly, Yamashita has also refereed at the Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Games. The Japanese official wrote her own history when she became the first female referee to take charge of an AFC Champions League fixture.

Frappart, Mukansanga, and Yamashita join the likes of Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor on the list of World Cup referees for Qatar.

As well as the history-making trio, three female assistant referees have been announced. Brazil’s Neuza Back, Kathryn Nesbitt of the USA, and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina will also be making the trip to the Middle East in November.

“This concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA men’s junior and senior tournaments,” said FIFA Referees Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina.

“In this way, we clearly emphasise that it is quality that counts for us and not gender. 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.

“They deserve to be at the FIFA World Cup because they constantly perform at a really high level, and that’s the important factor for us.”

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