How time flies, it feels like it was just yesterday that the French national team was crowned with its second success at the 2018 World Cup. Four years later, the football tournament is finally back with more than one surprise in store for fans of the sport.
For the first time ever in the sporting competition’s existence, the upcoming iteration of the FIFA World Cup, held in Qatar, will be including three female referees. The tournament. Which kicked off on Nov. 20, is history-making, not only for bringing football’s most watched and followed event to the region, but for also appointing women as part of the official officiating body for the first time in the 92 years of the event.
On that matter, Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, commented that it “(…) concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA men’s junior and senior tournaments,” before adding that he hopes “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.”
In total, 36 umpires, from 31 different nationalities, will be making their way to the Gulf State to make sure that each game takes place in due and proper form.
In honor of the month-long tournament, we’re taking a deep into the respective careers of the three female referees that will be blowing the whistle at the World Cup this year.
Salima Mukansanga, Rwanda
Ten months after becoming the first woman to ever officiate a match at the Africa Cup of Nations last January, Salima Mukansanga, hailing from Rwanda, is now also set to become one of the first women to arbitrate a men’s game at the World Cup.
At only 34 years old, Mukansanga already has an impressive list of records and achievements associated with her name. In the past, she’s had stints officiating at the Olympics, the Women’s World Cup, as well as the African Women’s Champions League.
Stephanie Frappart, France
Stephanie Frappart will be one of the two French representatives that will be refereeing at this year’s edition of the tournament. The 38-year-old has already made a name for herself by notably being the recipient of three consecutive IFFHS World’s Best Woman Referee awards between 2019 and 2021, on top of becoming the first-ever woman to officiate both a Ligue 1 fixture as well as a Champions League match.
Yoshimi Yamashita, Japan
Last but not least, it’s Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan that rounds this short list up. Far from being an outsider, much like her peers, Yamashita has an experienced career behind her, with more than one single first in the sport. She’s notably recognized for being the first ever Asian Champions League, J-League female referee with several stints at the Women’s World Cup and at the 2020 Summer Olympics.