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Led by French referee Stephanie Frappart, Mexico’s Karen Diaz and Brazil’s Neuza Back were part of the team officiating the match on Dec. 1.
Led by French referee Stephanie Frappart, Mexico’s Karen Diaz and Brazil’s Neuza Back were part of the team officiating the match on Dec. 1. Photo: Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Two Latinas make World Cup history as part of the first all-women officiating crew in Costa Rica v. Germany

Led by French referee Stephanie Frappart, Mexico’s Karen Diaz and Brazil’s Neuza Back were part of the team officiating the match on Dec. 1.

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The final group stage fixture between Germany and Costa Rica caught the attention of tens of millions across the world as Japan’s huge upset win over Spain on the same day, Dec. 1, meant the former world champions were out of the tournament for the second cup in a row. 

It was also a history-making day worldwide as the Germany and Costa Rica match was officiated entirely by women — the first time a woman has officiated a men’s World Cup fixture.

Led by French official Stephanie Frappart and assisted by Brazilian Neuza Back and Mexican Karen Diaz, they completed an all-women on-field team selected by FIFA. For Frappart, this is a huge step up to officiate one of the world’s biggest sporting events, but nothing new for the French official who has been officiated in Ligue 1, France’s top-flight since 2019. 

In the time since, she officiated Liverpool vs Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup in 2019 and in 2020 took charge of her first men’s Champions League match, becoming the first woman to officiate a men’s European fixture. 

Frappart also officiated a Champions League match between Real Madrid and Celtic earlier this year in which she awarded three penalties, two for Madrid and one for Celtic. 

Other matches officiated by Frappart include the Women’s World Cup final in 2019, the Coupe de France final this past May and a World Cup qualifier between Netherlands and Latvia for the 2022 tournament. She was also named as fourth official earlier in the tournament when Portugal took on Ghana. 

Frappart is also not much of a disciplinarian on the pitch, as in the six games in Ligue 1 she has officiated, she has only given one straight red card, along with another ejection, but only after the player already had a yellow card. Her record number for yellow cards shown in one league game was back in August, where she handed out seven. 

As for the assistants, Back, the Brazilian, broke down her own barriers when she was named as part of the first all-women refereeing trio at the 2021 Club World Cup in Qatar, while breaking down that same barrier later that year when Defensa y Justicia faced Independiente del Valle in the Copa Libertadores in her home country. 

As for Mexico's Diaz, today’s fixture was not her first in the tournament, as she was named as an assistant for Croatia’s 0-0 draw against Morocco last week. She took on the same role for Portugal’s 3-2 victory over Ghana the following day. 

Frappart is also not the only first-time referee at this year's World Cup, as FIFA also named three women referees, as she is joined by Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Japan's Yoshimi Yamashita.

The Rwandan was the fourth official for France's opener against Australia — the first African woman to officiate at the tournament — and was also the first female to referee at this year’s African Cup of Nations. 

As for Yamashita, the Japanese was the fourth official for two of England's group stage fixtures against Iran and Wales. She previously officiated at the 2019 Women's World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Frappart spoke to The Independent about some of the scrutiny she expects to face at the tournament. 

“There is always pressure in the matches. And when you are a woman there is more pressure because it is always new,” she said. “I made a lot of games with high importance, so with all this experience we will be ready for the matches.”

“We know the pressure. But I think we will not change ourselves — be calm, focused, concentrate. And don’t think about the media and everything and be focused on the field,” she continued. “We know there is a lot of expectation, we know that each game is more important, but we also have experience in our competition.”

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