Women Will Referee At Qatar’s FIFA World Cup For The First Time In History

Despite the controversy surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup, three women have been selected to referee for the competition in Qatar for the first time in history.

While the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been surrounded by controversy largely aimed at the host nation of Qatar, the competition still remains the biggest event in the football calendar. Drawing the best players from around the world, audiences have once again been united as they barrack for their home team, emphasising the fact that football truly is the world’s game. In 2022 though, the FIFA World Cup has made a historic breakthrough, with women being able to referee for the first time in history after three were selected for the competition starting this week. 

For the competition taking place in Qatar, 36 referees have been chosen to oversee the men’s games, with the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) selecting three women: French Stephanie Frappart, Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita. Three women have also been selected to participate as assistant referees, with Brazilian Noiza Pal, Mexican Karen Dias Medina and American Catherine Nesbitt all being chosen. 

Speaking about being appointed as a referee for the biggest tournament on the world stage, Mukansanga said: “We are here because we deserve to be here. This is the biggest level of football, so being here means we deserve to be here. It’s not a chance. It’s not because we are women.”

Much of the controversy surrounding this FIFA World Cup comes at the human rights violations levelled at Qatar over the injustices experienced by those workers tasked with building the stadium, but criticism has also been directed towards the nation’s conservative rulings that have impacted the LGBTQI+ community and women. These same conservative views are reflected by participating nations Iran and Saudi Arabia, but FIFA has assured that its female referees will not face restrictions based on cultural religious grounds in matches. 

For Frappart, breaking barriers in sport has become common place for the referee who has long sought to hone her skills and become one of the best in the field. She was the first female referee selected for a UEFA Champions League game in 2020, and also took charge of the 2019 UEFA Supercup in 2019. Frappart was also the first in the French second division in 2014, and the first division for men in 2019. 

Similarly, Yamashita was the first woman to run a match in the AFC Champions League in 2019, and the first female to officiate a J League match. After finding out she had been chosen to referee the World Cup, Yamashita said the news was “unbelievable.”

“I feel the pressure, but I also feel a lot of joy in having the opportunity to feel this pressure, and having this responsibility. That’s what I should be focused on, and it’s positive,” she said. 

For Mukansanga, who was the first woman to officiate at the Africa Cup of Nations at the beginning of this year, she hopes the presence of women refereeing at Qatar will inspire others to get involved in what is otherwise a traditionally male-dominated profession. “It’s a moment,” says Mukansanga. “It’s an opportunity we get now to open the door.”

Source @womenshealth.com.au: Read more at : womenalive.org

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