The World Cup in Qatar has already been dubbed the World Cup of controversy. However, there is also room for hope, since for the first time in the history of the men's World Cups, six women are among the 129 referees appointed to direct the matches of the competition. Stéphanie Frappart from France, Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda and Yamashita Yoshimi from Japan will serve as main judges, while Karen Díaz from Mexico, Neuza Back from Brazil and Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States will serve as assistant judges.
All of them have extensive experience in high-level refereeing, and some have achieved important milestones such as directing men's soccer matches. The most recognized worldwide, Stéphanie Frappart, has been a FIFA referee since 2011 and her first international match was at the 2011-12 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship played in Turkey.
The Frenchwoman was named the best referee in the world consecutively in 2019 and 2020. She was the first woman to referee the UEFA Men's Super Cup final and also a pioneer in the UEFA Champions League. Similarly, she became the first woman promoted to Ligue 1, the French men's first division.
Yoshimi and Mukansanga, for their part, participated as collegiates in the 2019 Women's World Cup in France and in the Tokyo Olympics. Likewise, the Japanese was the first woman to lead a match in the Japanese first division and the Asian Football Champions League. The Rwandan also made history by refereeing a match in the men's Africa Cup of Nations. Nesbitt and Back also participated in the Women's World Cup and have officiated several men's soccer matches.
The collegiate Karen Díaz will be the only Spanish-speaking representative. The Mexican has already made her debut in Qatar, specifically as a substitute in the matches between Spain and Costa Rica, and Portugal and Ghana. Graduated in Agroindustrial Engineering, Díaz made her debut in Liga MX in 2016 and since 2018 she has been an international FIFA referee.
Like their partner Karen Díaz, Stéphanie Frappart and Salima Mukansanga made their debut as fourth referees at the World Cup in Qatar in the matches between Mexico and Poland, and France and Australia respectively.