Fifa took forever, but finally it will field a female refereeing trio at the World Cup in Qatar.
The French Stéphanie Frappart will be the referee of Germany x Costa Rica, on Thursday (1st) in Al-Khor, a match that decides the future of the European team, four times world champion, in the competition.
The moment at the Al Bayt stadium will be historic, as this is the first edition of the World Cup with women in refereeing – the tournament, played since 1930, is in its 22nd edition.
Together with Frappart, the Brazilian Neuza Back and the Mexican Karen Díaz Medina will go to the field in this match, to help her as linesmen. All are 38 years old.
Completing the female arbitration representatives in Qatar are referees Salima Mukansanga, 34, from Rwanda, and Yoshimi Yamashita, 36, from Japan, and assistant Kathryn Nesbitt, 34, from the USA.
Frappart is the most famous referee in the world. She has already refereed the men’s French Cup decision, the men’s Champions League game and the qualifying match for the Qatar Cup (Netherlands vs. Latvia, in March last year).
As published by Sheet this Tuesday (29) on the blog O Mundo É uma Bola, women were being relegated to a role of extras in refereeing at the World Cup in Qatar, a country where female rights are little considered.
In two complete rounds of the group stage, totaling 32 matches, they were only chosen as fourth or fifth referee, or as assistant to the VAR (video referee), who is already an assistant.
The fourth referee only enters the field if the holder has a problem, such as an injury, that prevents him from continuing in charge of the match.
Otherwise, he remains at the bureaucratic post of lifting the sign that indicates substitutions in the game – in addition to listening to the complaints of the team coaches, who are in a nearby area.
Japan’s Yamashita has often played this role, who was in action this Tuesday in England vs. Wales at the Ahmed bin Ali stadium, in Al Rayyan.
The fifth referee, a function performed by Santa Catarina’s Back in Mexico x Poland, is the reserve for the linesmen. If none of them has to be replaced –almost never happens–, he is relegated to “assistant to the fourth official”.
Frappart, Back and Díaz Medina will only be protagonists on the 12th day of the World Cup, the penultimate day of the group stage, when 42 of the 64 World Cup matches will have already taken place.
The Qatar World Cup has 36 referees, 69 assistants (line linesmen) and 24 VARs (video referees).
This Tuesday morning, hours before the scale that included the names of the three was released, the Sheet contacted FIFA’s communication department by email to question the criteria for choosing the refereeing team for the games, but the entity did not respond.
Thursday’s match, in which Back, Frappart and Díaz Medina will be in action, is decisive.
Germany, who are last in Group E, with 1 point, need to defeat Costa Rica (3 points) in order not to give an early goodbye to the Cup for the second time in a row.
In the same group are Spain (4 points) and Japan (3), who play at the same time, at 4 pm (Brasília time), at the Khalifa stadium, in Doha.
‘Smell of grass’
After learning that she was chosen to go to the World Cup in Qatar, Neuza Inês Back, born in Saudades (in the west of Santa Catarina), gave some interviews in which she commented on the feat she had achieved and her expectations for participating in the competition.
“We spend four years waiting for this moment to arrive at the World Cup to be able to watch the games, and I will be able to smell the grass, I will be able to be part of a World Cup”, he declared to TV Globo.
She also said how she intends to manage the nervousness and wonder of playing in the most important soccer competition on the planet.
“It’s my self-defence. [Vejo] the red team against the white team. If I keep thinking I’m in a World Cup match, working with two teams, soon I won’t be able to work on the game.”
The highest point in refereeing the former physical education student occurred at the Club World Cup in Qatar, earlier this year, when she was selected to be in the men’s competition, in which, however, she appeared only as a substitute.
Now, very close to living the most important day of her professional career, she knows that the world will be watching if her performance is up to a World Cup.
“It’s the biggest professional challenge I’ll face in my life. The world stops to watch this competition”, said Back to Bandeirantes radio.
“It’s a challenge for all women. As we are going for the first time, the world will be watching with that look: will they be able to handle it? Are they going for a social action by FIFA or because they really have the quality to work with? I hope let the answer be: they are going because they deserve it, because they have professional capacity.”
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