They are the French Stéphanie Frappart, the Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and the Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita, selected among the 36 central referees of the World Cup (November 20-December 18). Three other women have been appointed as assistants, namely the Brazilian Neuza Back, the Mexican Karen Díaz Medina and the American Kathryn Nesbitt.
“As usual, the main criterion that guided our selection was quality,” said Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee.
First woman to officiate in the French second division (2014), in the men’s Ligue 1 (2019), in the European Supercup (August 2019), in the Champions League (December 2020), among others, the 38-year-old Frenchwoman say very happy to officiate at this World Cup.
“I am very moved because it was not necessarily planned. As for the players, the coaches or the teams, a World Cup is really the pinnacle both in football and in all sports. It’s the biggest competition so obviously I’m very moved and very honored to participate, “she said.
For her part, Yoshimi Yamashita, born in Tokyo, has been an international referee since 2015. On her track record, many championships in Asia but also a selection for the Women’s World Cup in France in 2019, then at the Tokyo Olympics where she had refereed Sweden vs USA game. In 2021, she is the first woman to referee in the Japan League. Last April, she was also the first woman to referee in the Asian Champions League.
“I feel a great responsibility both as a Japanese” and as a woman, she explains. “I think it’s a strong symbol,” she admits. “An opportunity for women to show their potential”.
If there are more and more female footballers, she believes that “we must continue to expand the teams, increase women’s competitions”.
As for Salima Mukansanga (34), she was the first woman to referee in the African Cup of Nations during the Zimbabwe-Guinea (2-1) match, on behalf of the first round on January 18, in Yaoundé. In Qatar, she will officiate as the first African female referee.
However, nothing predestined her for a career at the whistle. As a child, she had a fondness for the beautiful orange and had the ambition to become a professional basketball player. But for lack of an adequate structure and coach to accompany her on this path in Africa, she finally changed course and chose the round ball.
Decidedly, these three referees will be in the limelight in Doha, they who share the same desire to change mentalities and enshrine the principles of parity in the field of refereeing.