First woman referee in World Cup

As in Mexico-Poland, Stephanie Fraparte has only been used as the fourth official in previous matches at the World Cup.Image by AP

After forty games it started to get a little stale and there was grumbling from many quarters. Ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA boasted the first of three female referees at the world’s most important football tournament. They couldn’t even whistle for a minute.

Tuesday evening finally brought word of redemption for St├ęphanie Frappart, who will be in charge of Costa Rica-Germany on Thursday. Until that meeting, she only had signs on her side. Like Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita and Rwandan Salima Mugansanga, he was only used as a fourth official.


This led to speculation about the host country, Qatar, where women do not have the same legal and social status as men. Can female umpires join the list of beer and rainbow properties in arenas? Things the Qataris, on closer inspection, don’t really want to do.

After Frappart’s appointment, those theories could go to waste. The fact that it took so long was mainly due to the complex puzzle that referee boss Pierluigi Collina had to solve. He vowed before the match that the girls would be able to lead in every game, but said it would depend on their “performance in training” and “definitely our feedback”.

The criteria are not well established, but it is clear that it is about a combination of referee qualities and political reasons. For example, all regions of the world should be represented in the World Cup. New Zealander Matthew Conger is undoubtedly a great umpire, but he is not necessarily among the best 36 in the world.

Experience at the highest level

Female referees have also now been thrown into the mix with the aim of encouraging women to whistle. They only have to compete with referees who have dozens of top matches to their name. Experience at the highest level, of course, and even a heavyweight like Frappart has to lose.

The Frenchwoman has been considered the best female referee in the world for years. He officiated the final at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and regularly refereed the men’s matches. He refereed two matches in the Champions League, was active in the last European Championship and presided over the European Super Cup. She received a lot of praise for the way she did it, but her resume was no match for Istvan Kovacs.

The Romanian has refereed fourteen games in the Champions League, the highlight of which was last season’s semi-final between Manchester City and Real Madrid. Also, he was allowed to officiate the final of the Conference League with Feyenoord. Kovacs is based in Qatar and has yet to referee a match, but it has only been criticized in his home country.

Is Frapart allowed to go to work now that women have raised questions about their absence? Colina would doubtless deny it and refer to his earlier words. Frappart is allowed to whistle thanks to his ‘achievements’ and ‘of course, our opinions’.

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