Frenchwoman Stéphanie Frappart, first woman to referee at the World Cup

One more shot in the glass ceiling. Frenchwoman Stéphanie Frappart becomes the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match, officiating the Germany-Costa Rica match in Qatar on Thursday.

A first in the history of football. The French Stéphanie Frappart will become, Thursday, December 1, the first woman to referee a meeting of the Men’s World Cup, holding the whistle of the decisive match of group E, Germany-Costa Rica.

First female central referee in the French second division (2014) in the men’s Ligue 1 (2019), first woman to lead the European Supercup in August 2019, first woman to officiate in the Champions League in December 2020, first to referee at a Euro in 2021… And here is now the world, in Qatar.

“A World Cup is the pinnacle, the biggest competition in the world,” she explained at the end of September, during a press briefing in Clairefontaine, after her appointment for the trip to Qatar.

Rather than a personal accomplishment, she preferred to see in it “the enhancement of French refereeing. French refereeing is recognized by UEFA and Fifa, it’s good for French refereeing and football.”

Clément Turpin, the other French referee in Doha to have held the whistle during the 1st round of the world, praises his experience. “She has done dozens of international competitions. She knows how to perfectly manage an intercontinental event”.

Before getting there, Stéphanie Frappart, 38, crossed all the levels with perfect regularity, after activating arbitration in 1996.

“At first, it was out of passion. I didn’t have Ligue 1 or any competition in my sights,” she explains.

“A lot of diplomacy”

Former player of AS Herblay in the Paris region, she has been refereeing since she was 13 years old. She scoured the French second division stadiums for five seasons before being promoted in the summer of 2019 to Ligue 1, which no other main referee had managed to do until then.

Stéphanie Frappart is then quickly unanimous, attracting the praise of the actors of the game, whether they are on the ground or on the bench.

“She has a lot of diplomacy”, had thus appointed in 2019 Christophe Galtier then coach of Lille. “All she has to do is give a look, a smile, a gesture… and it’s over.”

“She has a small voice, but she has charisma, personality,” described midfielder Pierre Bouby, who had rubbed shoulders with her in Ligue 2 with Orléans. “She uses the right words, she explains, she is a diplomat and we can discuss with her.”

His career has been packed since, moving from France to Europe. During Juventus Turin-Dynamo kyiv (3-0) in December 2020, she became the first woman to officiate as the main referee of a Champions League match, and her performance that evening, under control, had been applauded by the press.

Then it will be the Euro and finally the world. In between, she will referee another historic match. Last March, she refereed the Barcelona-Real Madrid women’s match in front of 91,000 spectators massed in the Camp Nou, a historic record at the time.

“A big step forward”

Obviously, questions about being a woman in the midst of men are regularly asked of her. His answers are, like his way of refereeing, firm and diplomatic.

“I have always campaigned for our skills to be taken into account, and not necessarily for our gender. If the girls have qualities, they must also be given the opportunity to achieve them”, adds -she.

“Since 2019, we have taken a big step forward. Now, it is no longer a surprise to see women refereeing men, regardless of the continent or the country. So it is in line with what s is already done and a little more highlighted”, she explained in September.

Clément Turpin abounds. “Today, they are selected not because they are women, but because they are efficient”.

“It’s the first time, but it’s part of a path taken for a while,” he adds, refusing to give him advice.

The native of Val-d’Oise is not worried about serving in Qatar either, despite the criticism that has surrounded this country since its designation.

“It’s also a strong sign from the authorities to put women in this country. I’m not a feminist spokesperson, but if that can make things happen… I know that we often play a role, especially in sport”, she explains, rejoicing to have “always been well received” in Qatar.

With AFP


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