French woman, Stephanie Frappart, will make history as the first female to referee a men’s World Cup in Thursday’s clash between Germany and Costa Rica in Qatar.
Frappart will lead the first all-female refereeing team in the World Cup Group E match which Germany must win to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the last 16.
38-year-old Frappart will be joined by Brazil’s Neuza Back and Mexico’s Karen Diaz as she puts down another marker for female officials having also been the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup qualifier in March.
Last week, she became the first female official at a men’s World Cup when she was fourth official for the Poland vs Mexico Group C tie, but on Thursday she will be more in the spotlight.
Costa Rica coach, Luis Fernando Suarez, who described the development as a step forward for women in a “sexist sport”, said it “spoke volumes” for Frappart’s commitment to reach the top level in a profession dominated by men.
Suarez said: “I am a great admirer of everything women have conquered and I like the fact they want to keep on conquering things.
“This is another step forward. This speaks volumes for this woman, of her commitment, especially in this sport which is a very sexist one. It’s very difficult to reach the point that she has reached, I think it’s good for football and a positive step for football, to show that it’s opening up for everyone.”
Costa Rica midfielder, Celso Borges, also welcomed her appointment for such a high-profile game.
“I think it’s great and it’s a huge achievement for women globally.
“If she is there it’s because she has all the capabilities to perform on this stage. She has done it before in big matches so I don’t see why tomorrow should be an exception.
“I just hope she has a good match and that we can help her make it an easy match,” Borges stated.
Her appointment was also backed by Germany manager, Hansi Flick, who said he has “100% confidence” in Frappart.
“She deserves to be here based on her performance. I hope she is equally looking forward to the game just like we are, and I hope she can deliver a good performance,” he said.
Germany defender, Lukas Klostermann, also welcomed the move, which he described as “the most normal thing in the game”.
“I have never looked prior to the game if it is a man or a woman that will be with the whistle, and I hope it will remain a normality,” he said.