Female referees set to make history in Qatar 2022 World Cup
DOHA, Qatar - It's just a few hours before the kick of the historic Qatar 2022 world cup taking place in the Middle East for the first time.
The 2022 world cup tournament is taking off and will have 36 referees, 69 assistant referees, and 24 video match officials.
For the first time, the world cup will have 6 female referees officiating a man’s world cup.
The six who are making history are the referees Stéphanie Frappart from France, Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan and Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda, and the assistant referees Neuza Back from Brazil, Karen Díaz Medina from Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt from the USA.
They will be representing five confederations: AFC, Caf, Concacaf, Conmebol, and Uefa.
The selections conclude a long process that started several years ago with the deployment of female referees at Fifa men’s junior and senior tournaments. I hope this is only the start and it becomes the norm to see female officials at the biggest men’s tournament.
The fact these women are breaking new ground in the men's game at a World Cup taking place in Qatar a country often criticized for its record on women's rights is hardly insignificant.
Whereas national teams have been arriving in Qatar over the past week, the officials met the previous week and that allows for a strong period of further integration for all those attending their first World Cup.
This follows several seminars over the past few years, culminating in the main focus in the summer which allowed the officials to come together to work collaboratively on reviewing and analyzing video clips of match situations and to take part in practical training sessions with players.
These were filmed to enable participants to receive instant feedback from instructors.
Included in those seminars were England’s two teams of World Cup officials: Anthony Taylor, Gary Beswick, and Adam Nunn; and Michael Oliver, Simon Bennett, and Stuart Burt.
Every official will be judged equally on the quality of their performances and will have undergone the same fitness testing to ensure they can operate over the next month on the biggest stage of all.
The elite female officials there are used to pressure through their involvement in the top levels of their national leagues and that will stand them in good stead for matches potentially watched by billions of people around the globe.
From my own experiences, Fifa is really supportive of all officials.
The transition of more female officials into the top levels of the men’s game is also happening closer to home. Most notably, Natalie Aspinall has followed in the footsteps of Sian Massey Ellis into the Premier League, but a growing number of us are also officiating regularly on EFL fixtures, many driven through new opportunities via the elite referee development plan.