Stephanie Frappart to lead all-female officials team as first woman to referee men’s World Cup match

French official to take charge of Germany v Costa Rica Group E clash

France’s Stephanie Frappart will become the first woman to referee a match at the men’s World Cup after being selected to take charge of Thursday’s clash between Germany and Costa Rica.

The 38-year-old will lead an all-female on-field team for the Group E match at Al Bayt Stadium, with Brazil’s Neuza Back and Mexican Karen Diaz Medina chosen as her assistants.

Frappart has already made history at the tournament, having become the first female official for a men’s World Cup match when she was fourth official for the goalless draw between Mexico and Poland last Tuesday.

FIFA named three female referees on its list of 36 for the competition, with Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan also in Qatar.


In addition, there are three women among the 69 assistant referees: Back, Diaz Medina and Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States.

Frappart has previously broken new ground as a female referee.

She became the first woman to referee a men’s Champions League game in 2020 when she took charge of Juventus’ match against Dynamo Kyiv.

She has also overseen games in Ligue 1, the Europa League, men’s World Cup qualifying and the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool.

Broad welcome

For the managers involved, Fifa’s decision to appoint an all-female refereeing team is welcome. As Costa Rica’s manager, Luis Fernando Suárez, put it: “I am a great admirer of everything women have conquered. And I like that they want to keep conquering things. And this is another step forward, especially in this sport, which is a very sexist one. I like it. I think it is a situation that is good for football.”

Germany’s manager, Hansi Flick, took a similarly positive view when asked if he had any issues with Frappart’s appointment. “I trust her 100%,” he replied. “I think she deserves to be here due to her performance and achievements. I hope she is looking forward to this and I think she will perform very well.”

It is a far cry from how women used to be treated by those in the sport’s hierarchy. As recently as 2004, the disgraced former Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, said female footballers should wear skimpier outfits to popularise the game. “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball,” he said. “They could, for example, have tighter shorts.”

While Frappart’s star has soared highest among women referees, she is not alone. Six women officials are at this World Cup, the legacy of a decision taken by Fifa at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada to get male and female officials to work more closely. A year later in Doha, that became a reality when 48 referees of both sexes spent five days analysing controversial decisions, taking physical tests, simulating match situations on the pitch and reviewing them on videotape.

Frappart’s journey, meanwhile, has taken 25 years. She began as a child footballer in the Val d’Oise, north of Paris, and by age 13 she was refereeing children’s matches.

Frappart could have been a decent player but at university she made the decision to focus on refereeing. Since then she has consistently torn down barriers and shattered glass ceilings. She was the first woman to referee in men’s Ligue 2, then Ligue 1, then the Uefa Super Cup and Champions League, and now a men’s World Cup. - Reporting: PA/Guardian