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World Cup 2022 Will be the First to Feature Female Referees

Football Cards and Whistle Against White BackgroundThe 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first to feature female referees, in another step towards gender balance in football.

The history-maker Stephanie Frappart, the first woman to take charge of Champions League and Ligue 1 games, will be joined in the Middle East by Salima Mukansanga and Yoshimi Yamashita, who have both already officiated in high-profile men’s matches.

Mukansanga was on the panel of referees for the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, while Yamashita refereed an AFC Champions League contest – one of the most prestigious tournaments in Asian and Oceanic club football.

The trio will also be joined at the World Cup by three assistant referees, with Kathryn Nesbitt, Neuza Black and Karen Diaz Medina all selected to run the line in Qatar.

Pierluigi Collina, who became one of the most famous referees in world football in the 1990s and 2000s for his no-nonsense style and steely gaze, is now chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee. He said:

“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.”

Quality First

Qatar Flag Against Clear Sky

There will be a strong British representation in Qatar, with two Premier League referees selected. Michael Oliver has shown more red cards than any other official in the English top-flight in 2021/22, while Anthony Taylor has refereed more EPL games than anyone else this term.

Also on the list is Janny Sikazwe, who controversially blew for full time after just 86 minutes in an Africa Cup of Nations tie between Mali and Tunisia in January. The Zambian eventually restarted play, only again to blow prematurely after 89 minutes. He had earlier given two penalties and a red card in a fraught contest, and it was later revealed he was suffering from heatstroke and severe dehydration – leading to his ‘confusion’.

The 36 chosen referees will be joined by 69 assistants, who include Simon Bennett, Gary Beswick and Stuart Burt from the Premier League. The VAR team will be made up of 24 officials from around the globe.

“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” Collina confirmed.

“The 2018 World Cup was very successful, partly because of the high standard of refereeing, and we will do our best to be even better in a few months in Qatar.”