Female football referees will work at matches at a major men’s tournament for the first time ever during the Qatar World Cup.
FIFA has announced three female referees and three assistant referees have been among 129 match officials for the tournament.
French referee Stephanie Frappart has already officiated men’s games in World Cup qualifying matches and the Champions League, after taking charge of the Women’s World Cup final in 2019. She also refereed the final of the men’s French domestic cup earlier this month.
She will be joined in Qatar by Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan, with a total of 26 referees preparing for 64 games at the tournament, which will start on 21 November after the tournament was moved from its conventional summer slot due to the weather in Qatar.
“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” said FIFA Referees Committee chair Pierluigi Collina, who worked the 2002 World Cup final.
“In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender.”
The 69 assistants include Brazil’s Neuza Back, Mexico’s Karen Dias and the United States’ Kathryn Nesbitt.
“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,” Mr Collina said.
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Among the male referees in Qatar is Zambia’s Janny Sikazwe, who controversially blew the final whistle of the African Cup of Nations group game between Mali and Tunisia after 85 minutes and again 13 minutes before 90 minutes were complete.
Officials ordered teams back onto the field after half an hour but Tunisia refused and the result was later ratified by the Confederation of African Football despite an official protest by Tunisia, who lost 1-0.
Mr Sikazwe later explained that he started to become confused in the intense conditions in Cameron, as the match was played under high heat and humidity.
This will be his second World Cup after handling two games in 2018.
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FIFA has also picked 24 men to work on the Video Assistant Referee system during the tournament.
Two referees were picked from Argentina, Brazil, England and France, with Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor representing England.
Simon Bennett, Gary Beswick, Stuart Burt and Adam Nunn are the English assistants who have been selected.