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World Cup referee Stéphanie Frappart: the first woman

OEvidently, a few weeks ago, Stéphanie Frappart sensed that the moment would come when she would become a protagonist on the global football stage for at least 90 minutes as the first female referee. This Thursday, the 38-year-old Frenchwoman will kick off the game between Germany and Costa Rica at 8 p.m. (in the FAZ live ticker for the soccer World Cup, on ARD and on MagentaTV), making her the first woman to referee a World Cup game .

But this idea doesn’t scare her, she said shortly before the start of the World Cup, although she is already aware that the games in Qatar are more than “just football”. “It’s the most important competition in the world,” she said in an interview with the English sports portal “The Athletic”, but she is familiar with this type of extreme situation: “I was the first referee in France, the first in Europe, every time the first. I know how to deal with it.” In Qatar she had to wait for almost two weeks and was content with assignments as fourth official. The first critics were already asking what was going on with the referees. But now the time has come.

Frappart is one of a total of six women in the so-called “Team One”, which has a total of 129 referees, and is now something of a secret star of the group again. She is not a candidate to lead one of the really big games, a semi-final or a final, but with her appearance on Thursday evening after 92 years of World Cup history without women on the pitch, she will become the protagonist of a small revolution.

Although Frappart actually thinks that there is far too much fuss about women in the role of referee. “The men’s and women’s games are exactly the same,” she said. “Women’s football is getting faster and faster. Only the tactical approach is different. But there are also different styles of play between Europe, Africa and South America.”


In Qatar she now had to wait almost two weeks and content herself with appearances on the sidelines.
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Image: AP

Pierluigi Collina, FIFA’s chief referee, also tries to keep the question of gender relatively small in his department. The first-time appointment of women to “Team One” was “proof that quality and not gender” is decisive, he said two days before the opening game. “They deserve to be there because they consistently perform very well.” However, Frappart has gained the most diverse experience in both men’s and women’s football. Therefore, as a traveler between different worlds, she is exactly the right person for this premiere.

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