GENEVA – The women referees will go down in the history of this year’s World Cup, having played for the first time at a major men’s tournament in Qatar.

On Thursday, FIFA announced three female referees and three assistant referees among 129 officials selected for the World Cup, including one who caused controversy during the refereeing of the chaotic African Cup of Nations in January, suffering from heat stroke.

French referee Stephanie Frapart has already worked in the men’s games in the World Cup and Champions League qualifiers after holding the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. This month she also judged the French Men’s Cup final.

“As always, we used the criteria of ‘quality first’, and the selected officials of the match represent the highest level of refereeing in the world,” said FIFA Referees Committee Chairman Pierluigi Colina, who worked in the 2002 World Cup final. “In this way, we clearly emphasize that quality is important to us, not gender.”


Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda and Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan are also on the list of 36 referees preparing for 64 games in the tournament, which will be held from November 21 to December. 18.

The 69 assistant referees include Neusa Beck from Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico and Catherine Nesbitt from the United States.

“I hope that in the future, the selection of elite female officers for important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal and no longer sensational,” Colina said.

Among the male referees is Gianni Sikazwe of Zambia, who gave the final whistle in the African Cup group stage match 85 minutes and again 13 seconds before the end of 90 minutes when Mali led Tunisia 1-0.

About 30 minutes after the match, officials ordered the teams to return to the field to resume play, but Tunisia refused. The result was later ratified by the Confederation of African Football, despite an official protest from Tunisia.


The match took place in the heat and humidity of Cameroon, and Sikazwe later explained that he began to get confused in tense conditions.

Sikazwe will be working on his second World Cup after two group games at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Extreme heat in Qatar forced FIFA in 2015 to decide to move the tournament to colder months in the Emirates of the Persian Gulf.

FIFA has selected 24 people to work on video reviews. The VAR system debuted in 2018.

FIFA said 50 referees and assistants had begun preparations for the 2019 World Cup, and the project was affected by restrictions on international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two judges each were selected from Argentina, Brazil, England and France.

All officials who have not been assigned to specific teams of three people this year are waiting for technical, physical and medical assessments, FIFA said.


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