Stephanie Frappart and Salima Mukansanga made history when they became the first women to officiate at a men’s World Cup after being named fourth officials in Tuesday’s Group C clashes.
Frappart and Mukansanga are one of three women to be included on FIFA’s list of 129 referees for the World Cup in Qatar, with Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita also set to officiate. The inclusions mark the first time female referees will feature at the showpiece tournament.
Frappart was the first of the trio to take to the pitch, with the French official overseeing the goalless draw between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 on Tuesday afternoon. Hours later, Rwanda’s Mukansanga oversaw France’s emphatic 4-1 opening victory over Australia.
According to FIFA, the pioneering women will also be joined by Neuza Back from Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States, who have been named assistant referees among 69 others for the tournament.
Breaking new ground is not new for Frappart or her counterparts. Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s Champions League
game in 2020 when she took charge of Juventus’ match against Dynamo Kyiv. She has also officiated matches in men’s World Cup qualifying, the Europa League, Ligue 1 and the 2019 UEFA Supercup final between Chelsea and Liverpool.
At this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, Mukansanga not only became the first woman to referee at the tournament, but led out an all-woman officiating team of Fatiha Jermoumi (Morocco), Carine Atemzabong (Cameroon), and Bouchra Karboubi (Morocco) as the VAR.
Australian referee Chris Beath shows the yellow card to Mexico’s assistant manager Jorge Theiler (L) as French fourth official Stephanie Frappart looks on
She has also officiated at the Olympics, FIFA Women’s World Cup, Africa Women Cup of Nations and CAF Women’s Champions League, and is set to become the first African woman to officiate a men’s World Cup.
Meanwhile, Yamashita became the first women to referee matches in the J-League and Asian Champions League, on top of officiating at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In Qatar, she will become the first Asian woman to officiate at the men’s pinnacle football event.