This November the 2022 World Cup began in Qatar with many labelling it as the most controversial tournament to date.

It has faced several issues concerning migrant workers’ and women’s rights, anti-gay laws and accusations of financial corruption.

However, despite these controversies, the World Cup is set to make ground-breaking history as the first FIFA men’s tournament to feature female referees selected to officiate games.

”…they achieve every referee’s dream this month.”

Strikingly, in the 92 years of the tournament’s existence, a woman has never before taken charge of a game on the world’s biggest stage.

The three women named among the other 36 referees are Yamashita Yoshimi (Japan), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda) and Stephanie Frappart (France).

Each of them has an abundance of experience officiating for FIFA and are sure to make themselves proud as they achieve every referee’s dream this month.

Stephanie Frappart led the first all-female officiating team for a Men’s World Cup match as Costa Rica took on Germany in a crucial final group-stage game.

She was joined by Neuza Back (Brazil) and Karen Diaz Medina (Mexico) as she marked another milestone in her impressive career.

Frappart is no stranger to making history, as back in 2020, she refereed a UEFA Champions League game, as well as a World Cup Men’s qualifier in March and the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final.

The trailblazing 38-year-old has said that she sincerely hopes that herself and the other female referees’ presence at the tournament will ‘make things happen’ on a wider scale.

”…inspiring women bursting onto the international stage.”

According to Yamashita Yoshimi, who officiated at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, there are hardly any female referees in the Middle East, so she would like to see that change, with the Qatar World Cup as the catalyst.

Yamashita and Frappart’s words highlight the crucial lack of opportunities for young girls to get involved in match officiating on both a national and international level.

With such inspiring women bursting onto the international stage and becoming role models around the world, there has never been a better time to inspire young girls to get involved and become top level referees.

It is a great way to get more people involved in the game and promotes the importance of inclusivity in all aspects of life.

 Undoubtedly, the increasing inclusion of female referees in topflight fixtures, is just another formidable example of the inspiring, yet overdue, breakthrough for gender equality in football.


Featured image courtesy of Lars Ploughmann via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. License details found here.

By Emilie Mwanza

Founder of LG Women's Football. Trainee multimedia journalist