ZURICH: Women referees will officiate matches at the men’s World Cup for the first time in Qatar this year, the sport’s governing body FIFA announced on Thursday.
Three women referees and three women assistant referees will be part of the global showpiece event in Qatar, which will be held from Nov 21 to Dec 18.
Referees Stephanie Frappart from France, Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita, as well as assistant referees Neuza Back from Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico and American Kathryn Nesbitt have all been called up.
A total of 36 referees, 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials have been chosen by FIFA for the tournament.
“We are very happy that … we have been able to call up female match officials for the first time in the history of a FIFA World Cup,” said FIFA Referees Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina.
“This concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA men’s junior and senior tournaments.
“In this way, we clearly emphasise that it is quality that counts for us and not gender. I would hope 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.
“They deserve to be at the FIFA World Cup because they constantly perform at a really high level, and that’s the important factor for us.
“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide.”
Frappart became the first female official to be involved in European Championship matches after UEFA included her in the list of referees for the tournament last year.
All match officials for the finals will participate in early summer in seminars in Asuncion, Madrid and Doha.
“We can’t eliminate all mistakes, but we will do everything we can to reduce them,” said Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s Director of Refereeing.