Female referees will make World Cup soccer history this year by working games at a major men’s tournament for the first time in Qatar.
Three female referees and three female assistant referees were announced on Thursday by FIFA among 129 officials selected for World Cup duty.
French referee Stephanie Frappart already worked 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.
“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials representing the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” FIFA Referees Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina, who worked the 2002 World Cup final, said.
“In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender.”
Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan are also on the list of 36 referees preparing for the 64-game tournament, which will be played from November 21-December 18.
The 69 assistant referees include Brazil’s Neuza Back, Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico and American Kathryn Nesbitt.
“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,” Collina said.
The extreme heat in Qatar led FIFA to decide in 2015 to move the tournament to the cooler months in the Gulf emirate.
FIFA has picked 24 men to work on video reviews. The VAR system made its debut in 2018.
FIFA said 50 referee-and-assistant trios began preparing in 2019 for World Cup duty, with the project affected by limits on international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two referees were picked from each of Argentina, Brazil, England and France.
All the officials — who were not allocated into specific teams of three — face future technical, physical and medical assessments this year, FIFA said.