FIFA referee Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda is set to make history as the first African female to be appointed for a men’s World Cup after being named for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be staged in the Qatar later in November.
Mukansanga, who earlier in January this year, made history as the first female referee to officiate at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament, is among six female officials selected among the final list of referees, assistant referees and VAR referees for the competition.
Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita
The six females named among the 36 referees, 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials are Stephanie Frappart (France), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda) and Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan) who are all centre referees with Neuza Back (Brazil), Karen Diaz Medina (Mexico) and Kathryn Nesbitt (USA) named as assistant referees.
Stephanie Frappart (France)
Though their selection among the final list is no guarantee that they will actually officiate a game at the World Cup, it is still historic given that it is the first time in the 92-year-old history of the World Cup, that female referees have a chance to take charge of men’s World Cup finals
Mukansanga and the other five females could make further history depending on their performance in the final assessment and build-up to the tournament which kicks off on November 21.
According to the chairman of the FIFA referees committee Pierluigi Collina, the decision to include females in the team of match officials heading for the World Cup is the outcome of a process that began long ago to select the very best of the best for competitions.
“This concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA men’s junior and senior tournaments,” he said.
“In this way, we clearly emphasise that it is quality that counts for us and not gender,” the famed former FIFA Referee, Collina explained.
Thiry-three-year-old Mukansanga, a FIFA badge holder, is becoming a trailblazer among the Knights of the Whistle.
She was part of the officiating team for the 2021 AFCON Group B game between Guinea and Malawi at Stade Kouekong.
She, made history as the first female referee to handle an AFCON game, named as the fourth official on the day – a first for a woman in the men’s game.
She would go on to handle one of the Group B final games between Zimbabwe and Guinea.
The Rwandan was one of four women named among the 26 referees named for the competition, making it on the final list together with Carine Atemzabong, Fatiha Jermoumi and Bouchra Karboubi.
Before the AFCON 2021, Mukansanga who has fast risen to be among the best referees on the continent, also officiated at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, as well as the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
In 2018, she was among the referees selected for the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations staged in Ghana.
No Ghanaian referee
Among the 36 referees, there are six African referees, but the list does not include any Ghanaian, just as there is no Ghanaian among the six Africans selected among the 69 assistant referees.
No Ghanaian referee has been selected for the Mundial since 1982. The last Ghanaian football referee to officiate at the World Cup was Benjamin Kwabena Dwomoh who passed away in September 2013.
The late Dwomoh participated in the 1982 World Cup which was hosted by Spain and eventually won by Italy. He was the centre referee for the match between Czechoslovakia and Kuwait in Valladolid
The Africans selected for the competition from the November 21 to December 18 tournament, are known faces who were all on duty during the 2021 AFCON staged in Cameroun.
Referees: Victor Gomes (South Africa), Bakary Gassama (Gambia), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda), Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria), Janny Sikazwe (Zambia) and Maguette Ndiaye (Senegal)
Assistant Referees: Zakhele Swela (South Africa), El Hadji Samba (Senegal), Souru Phatsoane (Lesotho), Abdelhak Etchali (Algeria), Camara Djibril (Senegal) and Mahmoud Abouelregal (Egypt).
Video assistants: Zourak Adil (Morocco), Redouane Jiyed (Morocco).