On Thursday, France’s Stephanie Frappart will become the first woman to referee a men’s World Cupmatch after Fifa announced on Tuesday that she will take charge of the Group E match between Germany and Costa Rica.
The ongoing men’s World Cup also became the first time that female referees were featured. Three women – Frappart, Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita were included in the list of 36 referees selected by Fifa.
For the 38-year-old Frappart, being selected for the World Cup seemed like a logical next step after a rapid rise to refereeing at the top level in Europe. The highest profile women’s referee, Frappart became the first woman to officiate in France’s Ligue 1 in 2019, the same year she took charge of the women’s World Cup final in her home country.
Frappart has set numerous landmarks in her career – she was the first woman referee to officiate the men’s Uefa Super Cup (August 2019), the Champions League (December 2020) and the French Cup final (May 2022).
All that experience meant Qatar would not faze her.
“I am really moved because I didn’t necessarily expect this. It doesn’t get bigger than the World Cup,” Frappart said, when she was selected for the World Cup by Fifa.
She is appreciated in France for her diplomatic style as well as her firmness and insisted: “It is no longer about what gender you are. It is about your ability.”
She added, “Fifa and the governing bodies are putting out a strong message by having women referees in these countries.”
“I am not a feminist spokesperson but maybe this can help move things forward.”
The game between Germany and Costa Rica, that will feature an all-female refereeing trio in a men’s World Cup match for the first time, is one of the most crucial group stage matches left in the competition. Germany ranks last in Group E and needs to win to have any hope of making the round of 16. Additionally, Costa Rica needs at least a draw in order to have a shot at progressing.
Frappart will be joined by assistant referees Neuza Back of Brazil and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina in that game. Fifa’s pool of World Cup officials also includes US official Kathryn Nesbitt as a backup along with Back and Diaz Medina.
(With text inputs from AFP and The Guardian)