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FIFA has appointed six female referees for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, set to become the first men's World Cup in history to have a game refereed by a woman.
On Thursday, FIFA — the international soccer governing body — announced that 36 referees, 69 assistant referees, and 24 video match officials (VMOs) have been selected for the upcoming tournament. Among those are three female referees and three female assistant referees.
Stéphanie Frappart of France, Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan were chosen as referees. Frappart previously oversaw men's games in World Cup qualifying matches and the Champions League. Earlier this month, she also refereed the men's French Cup final.
The female assistant referees selected are Kathryn Nesbitt of the U.S., Neuza Back of Brazil and Karen Díaz Medina of Mexico.
"This concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA men's junior and senior tournaments," Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, said in a release. "In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender."
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"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."
Frappart, Mukansanga, Yamashita, Nesbitt, Back, Medina and all other selected officials will now be put through a rigorous training program throughout the summer ahead of the World Cup. Massimo Busacca, FIFA's director of refereeing, assured that all game officials will be provided necessary support by the organization as they prepare for the tournament.
"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, in order to have them in the best conditions when the ball starts rolling in Qatar," Busacca said.
"The key focuses of the preparation remain protecting players and the image of the game, consistency, uniformity, reading the game from a technical and tactical perspective and understanding a variety of player and team mentalities," he added in a statement. "We can't eliminate all mistakes, but we will do everything we can to reduce them."
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is scheduled to run from November 21 to December 18, according to FIFA.