The Qatar World Cup was always going to be full of firsts: the first time it will be played in the Middle East; the first time it will be played in November and December. Now, it may also be the first men’s World Cup tournament in which a game is refereed by a woman.
FIFA on Thursday named three women among the 36 referees chosen to officiate at the event and three more in the group of assistants that will run the line at the monthlong tournament. The most likely candidate among the three to get a starring role is Stéphanie Frappart of France, who has broken a number of barriers in European soccer.
Frappart, who made the list alongside female referees from Rwanda and Japan, has a stellar reputation in European soccer as the first woman to referee men in the Champions League, France’s top division and World Cup qualification games. This month, she refereed the final of the men’s French Cup.
Frappart was also chosen to join the officiating teams at last summer’s European Championship, but her role was limited to that of fourth official, a function on the sideline between the benches of the opposing teams.