Tomorrow, at Costa Rica vs. Germany, Stéphanie Frappart will become the female referee at a men’s World Cup match. And on top of this, she will also be leading the first all-female officiating team in the history of the men’s tournament.
Climbing to the Top
Stéphanie Frappart is a French football referee who started officiating youth games in her hometown when she was only 13 years old, and as a teenager, she also refereed games in the national Under-19 league.
She also played the sport when she was 13, but when she entered university, she decided to stop playing and pursue a career as a referee instead. In line with this, she built her reputation as an official in the sport and was selected to officiate for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. At the tournament, she was the referee for the Final match.
And her reputation and experience got her far. Over the years, she has reached huge milestones, not only in her career, but in the sport as a whole.
Frappart was the first woman to officiate in France’s top league, Ligue 1. She became the first female referee in a major men’s European match when she officiated the 2019 UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool and Chelsea. In 2020, she became the first woman to referee a UEFA Champions League match.
Now, she is about to make history in the biggest football tournament in the world.
Leading the First Step
In Costa Rica vs. Germany, Frappart will be leading the first all-female referee team in the men’s World Cup. With her on the pitch will be Neuza Back and Karen Diaz. FIFA announced that these three were among the 36 head referees for the 2022 World Cup.
In addition to the trio, Salima Mukansanga and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan are also in Qatar for the tournament.
With all the female referees on the pitch, surely, many other women passionate about the sport will take inspiration. In fact, female football officials are already growing in number. According to The FA, in England, they have increased by 72% since 2016.
“When you’re refereeing, you’re happy,” Frappart told The Athletic when asked about officiating one of the biggest games in the world. “You know the importance of the game, but you know your own quality and skill. If they appoint you at this level, it’s because you have the quality for that.”
Although being one of the firsts often means being met with criticism and controversy, this is definitely a step towards equality in the world of professional sports.
Banner image from FIFA Women’s World Cup on Twitter.