Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga gestures during the Group B Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Zimbabwe and Guinea at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on January 18, 2022. PHOTO/AFP

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Rwandan woman referee breaks World Cup ceiling

What you need to know:

  • Mukansanga was named among the 129 officials selected to officiate at the 2022 Fifa World Cup that kicks off November 21 to December 18 in Qatar. 
  • Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe made the cut despite his meltdown at the 2021 Afcon finals in Cameroon last January when he twice prematurely blew the final whistle in the match between Mali and Tunisia.

Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga has made history by becoming the first African woman to be appointed to officiate at the Fifa World Cup final.

Mukansanga was named among the 129 officials selected to officiate at the 2022 Fifa World Cup that kicks off November 21 to December 18 in Qatar. 

The 36 centre referees, 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials (VMOs) picked from the six confederations, include six women trailblazers who will become the first officiate at the men’s World Cup final.

Centre referees Stéphanie Frappart of France and Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan join Mukansanga, who in January became the first woman to officiate the at  men’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.

Back Neuza (Brazil), Karen Díaz Medina (Mexico) and Kathryn Nesbitt (USA) complete the list as assistant referees.

“We have been able to call up female match officials for the first time in the history of a Fifa World Cup. In this way, we clearly emphasise that it is quality that counts for us and not gender,” Pierluigi Collina, head of the Fifa Referees Committee, said.

Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga (R) gestures  during the Group B Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Zimbabwe and Guinea at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on January 18, 2022. 

Fifa said each match official will be carefully monitored in the next months with a final assessment on technical, physical and medical aspects to be made shortly before the World Cup.

This, the global football federation said, would help ensure that the appointed officials are in the best conditions when the ball starts rolling in Qatar.

Sikazwe makes the cut

Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe made the cut despite his meltdown at the 2021 Afcon finals in Cameroon last January when he twice prematurely blew the final whistle in the match between Mali and Tunisia.
“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” said Collina. 

African champions Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia and Ghana are the five nations that will represent the continent in Qatar in the first modern World Cup to be held during the winter season due to heat in the summer. 

Appointed women

Name                            Country    Position
Salima Mukansanga    RWA       Ref
Stéphanie Frappart       FRA      Ref
Yoshimi Yamashita     JPN        Ref
Neuza Back                   BRA       Asst
Karen Díaz Medina     MEX        Asst
Kathryn Nesbitt           USA        Asst    

Appointed CAF officials 

Centre referees
Salima Mukansanga    RWA
Victor Gomes    RSA
Gassama Bakary    GAM
Ghorbal Mustapha    ALG
Maguette Ndiaye    SEN
Janny Sikazwe    ZAM

Assistant referees 

Mahmoud Abouelregal    EGY
Djibril Camara    SEN
Mokrane Gourari    ALG
Arsenio Marengule    MOZ
Elvis Noupue    CMR
Souru Phatsoane    LES
El Hadji Samba    SEN
Zakhele Siwela    RSA
Abdelhak Etchiali    ALG
Video referees
Redouane Jiyed    MAR
Adil Zouraka    MAR
Ibrahim Aly    EGY

Pierluigi Colina, Fifa refs chief: 

I would hope that in the future, the selection of elite women’s match officials for important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal and no longer as sensational. They deserve to be at the Fifa World Cup because they constantly perform at a really high level, and that’s the important factor for us.

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