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Female referees to officiate at men’s world cup finals for first time

Female referees will make World Cup history this year in Qatar by officiating at a major men’s tournament for the first time.

Three female referees and three female assistant referees were announced on Thursday by Fifa among 129 officials selected for World Cup duty, including one man who caused controversy when refereeing a chaotic African Cup of Nations game in January while suffering with heatstroke.

The French referee Stéphanie Frappart oversaw men’s games in World Cup qualifying and the Champions League, after handling the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. She also refereed the final of the men’s French Cup this month.

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

The 69 assistant referees include Neuza Back of Brazil, Karen Díaz Medina of Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States.

“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 chairman Pierluigi Collina, who oversaw the 2002 World Cup final. “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.”

Among the male referees is Janny Sikazwe of Zambia, who blew the final whistle at an Africa Cup of Nations group match after 85 minutes and again 13 seconds before the 90 minutes were complete, with Mali leading Tunisia 1-0. About 30 minutes after the match, officials ordered the teams back on the field to restart play but Tunisia refused. The result was ratified by the Confederation of African Football despite an official protest by Tunisia.

The match was played in heat and humidity in Cameroon, and Sikazwe later explained he started to become confused in the intense conditions. Sikazwe will be officiating at his second World Cup after handling two group games at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Fifa has picked 24 men to work on video reviews. Two referees were picked from each of Argentina, Brazil, England and France. England’s representatives will be Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor.


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