2023 FIFA World Cup Will Make History With All-Female Refereeing Crew

Stéphanie Frappart, Neuza Back and Karen Diaz will take charge of Thursday’s Group E match between Costa Rica and Germany as the first all-female refereeing trio in men’s World Cup history, FIFA announced on Tuesday.

Frappart will make her men’s World Cup debut as the main referee after serving as the fourth official in a Group C match between Mexico and Poland last week.

The 38-year-old French referee is no stranger to record-breaking feats. She made history as the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup qualifying match, a men’s Champions League match in 2020, and this year’s French Cup final match. She was also head referee in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final for FIFA.

“The men’s World Cup is the most important sporting competition in the world. I was the first [female] referee in France and in Europe, so I know how to deal with it,” Frappart said, referring to her Champions League and French Cup participation.

Neuza Back, of Brazil, and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina will be assisting Frappart in the match.

“They were not selected because they are women, but as FIFA referees,” Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, said of the three referees before the World Cup. “They could officiate any game.”

A fourth female match official, Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States, will be working at the Al Bayt Stadium as the offside specialist in the video review team.

Two other women, Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan, are in the pool of FIFA’s 36 referees to oversee games in Qatar.

The group stage of the 2023 World Cup ends on December 2, and 16 teams will advance to the knockout bracket.

Four-time World Cup winner Germany is at the bottom of Group E and needs to beat Costa Rica to have any hope of advancing to the round of 16. The match is set to take place on Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar.

The starting 11 of the German national soccer team are photographed protesting FIFA's ban on captain Manuel Neuer wearing the rainbow "OneLove" armband in Qatar.
The starting 11 of the German national soccer team are photographed protesting FIFA’s ban on captain Manuel Neuer wearing the rainbow “OneLove” armband in Qatar.

Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images

The 2023 World Cup has been mired in controversy ever since 2010, when Qatar was chosen as the host, due to the country’s human rights record and the fact that homosexuality is outlawed there. Recently, FIFA threatened to penalize Germany and six other European nations if its players wore rainbow-printed “OneLove” armbands to support LGBTQ rights in Qatar. Players who break the rules will get yellow cards during the tournament.

Germany’s players protested the new policy by covering their mouths for the team photo before their World Cup opening match against Japan on Wednesday. Meanwhile, U.K. Sports Minister Stuart Andrew wore the OneLove armband during England’s World Cup match against Wales on Wednesday. Similarly, a protester ran onto the field waving a rainbow flag during Monday night’s match between Portugal and Uruguay.

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