Karen Díaz and Neuza Back Among List of Referees Making History at Qatar 2022 World Cup

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres
Art by Stephany Torres
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The Qatar 2022 World Cup is only a few months away, and as things start to shape up it’s not just the players involved in the World Cup that are taking the spotlight. Because the list of 129 referees that will participate in the World Cup has now been revealed, and some of them are set to make history, no matter what, just because they are women.

Six women being appointed as match officials for the FIFA World Cup is a landmark moment for a sport that has never seen a female referee in the men’s World Cup matches in the competition’s 92-year history. 

The selected referees are Stephanie Frappart from France, Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda, and Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan, while the assistant referees are Neuza Back from Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico, and Kathryn Nesbitt from the USA.

Diaz and Back are the first women from Latin America to ever be selected for such a position.

Speaking on the decision, the chairman of the FIFA referees committee, Pierluigi Collina said: “This concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA men’s junior and senior tournaments. In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender.”

FIFA has seen an increasing introduction of female referees in the men’s games in the past few years. Last year Stephanie Frappart and Kateryna Mozul became the first female match officials of men’s World Cup qualifiers. This year, six women – two from our communities – have been elected to referee at the World Cup. It was a long road, and there’s still a long way to go when it comes to equality in sports, but this is a very important first step, and as much as we will be supporting the players, we will also be supporting these referees.

The Qatar 2022 World Cup will take place from November 21st to December 18th, 2022.