World Cup has 3 women set to referee matches in Qatar

Nov 7, 2022, 12:14 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 2:19 am
FILE - Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita warms up during a training session Monday, June 27, 2022,...

FILE - Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita warms up during a training session Monday, June 27, 2022, at JFA YUME Field in Chiba, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

              FILE - Referee Stephanie Frappart during the Women Euro 2022 group B soccer match between Germany and Spain at Brentford Community Stadium in London, England, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
            
              FILE - Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan, one of three women picked to be head referees at the men's soccer World Cup, speaks during an interview withe The Associated Press Monday, June 27, 2022, at JFA YUME Field in Chiba, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
            
              FILE - Referee Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda gestures to the players during the African Cup of Nations 2022 group B soccer match between Zimbabwe and Guinea at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)
            
              FILE - Referee Stephanie Frappart gestures during the Women Euro 2022 group B soccer match between Germany and Spain at Brentford Community Stadium in London, England, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
            
              FILE - Referee Salima Mukansanga, of Rwanda, gestures towards the players during the African Cup of Nations 2022 group B soccer match between Zimbabwe and Guinea at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)
            
              FILE - Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan, one of three women picked to be head referees at the men's soccer World Cup, warms up during a training session Monday, June 27, 2022, at JFA YUME Field in Chiba, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
            
              FILE - Referee Stephanie Frappart shows a yellow card during the Women Euro 2022 group B soccer match between Germany and Spain at Brentford Community Stadium in London, England, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
            
              FILE - Referee Salima Mukansanga, of Rwanda, gestures towards the players during the African Cup of Nations 2022 group B soccer match between Zimbabwe and Guinea at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)
            
              FILE - Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita warms up during a training session Monday, June 27, 2022, at JFA YUME Field in Chiba, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita knows that being one of three women picked to officiate matches at the World Cup — the first time a woman will be in charge on the game’s biggest stage — is not simply about soccer.

Stephanie Frappart of France and Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda must be of the same mind. They are in a pool of 36 referees listed for Qatar — the rest are all men. FIFA has also named three female assistant referees in a pool of 69: Neuza Back of Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States.

Yamashita is aware that her selection put the focus on Japan’s low ranking on most measures of equal pay for women, and in global studies of gender equality.

“I would be very happy if women could play an active role in sports in this way, and if sports and especially soccer could lead this,” Yamashita said in an interview with The Associated Press. “In Japan, there is still a long way to go in the world of soccer (regarding participation of women), so it would be great if this could connect to the promotion of female participation in different ways, not only in soccer or in sports.”

All three have worked men’s matches, and their World Cup debut comes in a Middle Eastern country where the role of women is closely prescribed.

Frappart is the best known and has already worked men’s games in World Cup qualifying, and the Champions League. She also handled the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, and refereed this year’s men’s French Cup final.

Yamashita has worked games in Japan’s men’s league, and has also been in charge of the Asian equivalent of the men’s Champions League. She was also a referee at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Earlier this year, Mukansanga became the first woman to referee an Africa Cup of Nations match, leading an all-female officiating team.

“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” said FIFA referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina, who worked the 2002 World Cup final. “In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender.

“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.”

Yamashita said the difference in the men’s and women’s game was, of course, speed. But not simply that some men might run faster.

“It’s the speed, but not just the players’ speed,” she told the AP. “Not the ball speed. It’s just the game speed. It means for me I have to make quicker decisions — more speed.”

Then there’s the stress, the largest stage, and the attention she is certain to generate at the World Cup.

“Of course, I think the pressure is huge,” she said, “and I think I have a lot of responsibility. But I am really happy to take this duty and pressure, so I try to take it positively and I try to be happy.”

Though it’s likely that all three will be in charge of games, it’s not a given. They could also be used as “fourth referees” on the sideline. However, they cannot be used as assistants.

Like many referees, Yamashita said her job was to stay out of the way and let the game shine.

“One of the big goals as a referee is to bring out the the attractiveness of soccer,” she said. “I do my best for that, and I will do what I should at that time toward that end. So if I need to communicate with the players, I will do that. If I need to show a card, I will show a card. Rather than control, I’m thinking about what to do toward the big goal of bringing out the appeal of soccer.”

Yamashita conducted most of the interview with the AP in Japanese, but said she would use English and “facial gestures, body gestures” when communicating with players in Qatar.

“Usually when I give a card, I say nothing,” she said, shifting to English. “But when I give a warning, I just tell them I’m not happy. They understand.”

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

In protest-riven Iran, some celebrate U.S. World Cup victory

BAGHDAD (AP) — Soccer fans in Iran’s Kurdish region set off fireworks and honked car horns early Wednesday to celebrate the U.S. win over the Iranian national team in a politically charged World Cup match that divided the protest-riven country. Cheering fans hit the streets in Iran’s Kurdish-majority province of Kurdistan and fireworks lit the […]
1 day ago
Spain's Ansu Fati works out during a training session at Qatar University, in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday,...
Associated Press

Spain faces Japan looking to seal last-16 spot at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — After conceding late to miss out on a victory against Germany, Spain finds itself with some work left to do against Japan to guarantee its spot in the round of 16 at the World Cup. It doesn’t need much, though, as a draw on Thursday will be enough, and even a […]
1 day ago
Morocco's Abdelhamid Sabiri celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a World Cup group F so...
Associated Press

Morocco looks to advance in World Cup, Canada hopes for win

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Morocco is seeking to reach the World Cup’s knockout stage for the first time since 1986. Canada, already eliminated, is hoping to leave Qatar with its first win. Morocco would advance with a victory or a draw on Thursday night, and also could reach the round of 16 with a defeat […]
1 day ago
Christian Pulisic of the United States is helped by team doctors after he scoring his side's openin...
Associated Press

Pulisic listed as day-to-day with pelvic injury at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — U.S. forward Christian Pulisic is listed as day to day after sustaining a pelvic injury during his team’s 1-0 World Cup win against Iran that sent the Americans to the round of 16 of the tournament on Tuesday. Pulisic scored the 38th-minute winning goal against Iran, but crashed into Iranian goalkeeper […]
1 day ago
A woman holds up a sign reading Mahsa Amini, a woman who died while in police custody in Iran at th...
Associated Press

FIFA says rainbow items are allowed at World Cup stadiums

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — One day after Iran and Wales were eliminated at the World Cup, FIFA finally gave a public assurance Wednesday that rainbow items and banners supporting protests in Iran will be allowed into stadiums. Stadium security staff organized by Qatari authorities had seized items with rainbow colors and slogans such as “Women. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

In Ukraine, seeing World Cup, playing soccer pose challenges

IRPIN, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian video-game vendor Roman Kryvyi, fresh from a soccer game on a snow-blanketed field in suburban Kyiv, sat up close to a TV in a kebab shop as intermittent city power returned just in time for Tuesday’s World Cup game between Wales and England. For the 22-year-old soccer buff, there was […]
1 day ago
World Cup has 3 women set to referee matches in Qatar