Sunday 13 November 2022

The border is crumbling - Presentation of Female Referees at 2022 World Cup in Qatar

After the interview with Salima Mukansanga, Petra Tabarelli  presents the six female officials who will be in Qatar for Men's World Cup. 

Article by Petra Tabarelli.

Petra Tabarelli is a football historian, author and expert on the history of football rules. She works as a consultant for The IFAB and writes for the DFB's referee magazine et al. Since summer, she is blogging in English on Also, she is an expert for the history and present of female referees at a high level and a founding member of the award-winning German-language podcast FRUEF (German acronym for "Women talking about Football").

The border is crumbling

Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes ... or women's in women's football, of course.

Not only is football not always called football, it is also largely divided into two genders: Men are active in men's football, women are active in women's football. Slowly, however, the tide is turning in men's football and more and more women are also represented in men's football. By the end of 2022, they will even be on the big stage.

We are of course talking about female referees in men's football in the World Cup in Qatar in November/December 2022, a first at this level.

FIFA, which has already appointed female referees for the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar and for some men's World Cup qualifiers, is setting a good example.

From all over the world

The six women come from (almost) all continental associations. Only the Oceanian Confederation (OFC) is not represented by a female referee, but the North/Central American CONCACAF is represented by two women.

The nominees are
•Asia (AFC): Yoshimi Yamashita (referee, Japan)

•Africa (CAF): Salima Mukansanga (referee, Rwanda)

•UEFA: Stéphanie Frappart (referee, France)

•North America (CONCACAF): Karen Díaz Medina (Mexico), Kathryn Nesbitt (USA) (both assistant referees)

•South America (CONMEBOL): Neuza Back (assistant referee; Brazil)

Most of the women are professional match officials who are able to make a living through their work as referees. Exceptions are Stéphanie Frappart from France, and Karen Díaz Medina from Mexico.

Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita became a professional referee at short notice in the summer of 2022 after and probably as a result of her nomination as a men's World Cup referee. However, she has refereed matches in the AFC Champions League before, including in May 2019 with two other Japanese women.

They have all already made history. Nationally...

Although she has already refereed men's matches in the Champions League, Yamashita was not promoted to the J2 League (second division) until the 2022/23 season - and then directly again. Probably in view of her participation in the World Cup, she was promoted without much fanfare in September 2022 for a match in the highest division of Japanese men's football, the J1. She was previously the only person not still officiating in her country's first men's division. 

•2009: Neuza Back in Serie A (BRA)
•2015: Kathryn Nesbitt in the MLS league (USA)
•2016: Karen Díaz Medina in Liga MX (MEX)
•2018: Salima Mukansanga in National Football League (RWA)
•2019: Stéphanie Frappart in Ligue 1 (FRA)•2022: Yoshimi Yamashita in J1 (JPN)

... as internationally 

But all six women have also made history internationally.For example, of the six women appointed in Champions League matches for their continental association (Frappart, Nesbitt, Yamashita), Neuza Back has also been on the sidelines at the FIFA Club World Cup. 
They were added to the FIFA roster between 2009 and 2018.

In the World Cup qualifier, Frappart, Díaz Medina and Nesbitt were appointed to World Cup qualifier matches. Frappart was the first female referee on 27 March 2021, while Díaz Medina was the first female assistant referee on 24 March 2021, making her the first ever female match official at a World Cup qualifier - along with countrywoman Francia González as an assistant in a parallel match.

Mukansanga also refereed the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, while Frappart was a 4th official at Euro 2021. Nesbitt and Frappart have experience in the UEFA Nations League and Concacaf League respectively, Nesbitt even as an assistant in the final match.

How did they get into football and refereeing?

Most of them played football and other sports as teenagers. Salima Mukansanga wanted to become a professional basketball player as a teenager.

Their professional training, on the other hand, is very diverse: from teacher to nurse, agricultural technician, chemistry professor to sports scientist. (Unfortunately, I do not know what education Neuza Back had).

Her path into refereeing-if known-is also different. Yamashita met Makoto Bozono at college, who got her interested in refereeing (the two women and Naomi Teshirogi were appointed for the all-female match in the AFC CL in May 2019).

Mukansanga did the training in her last year at school and Frappart was already a player and referee at the same time for six or seven years as a teenager before she decided on one. Díaz Medina, on the other hand, became a referee almost by accident: she worked in the coffee shop of a sports centre. The referee didn't turn up for a football match and she stood in for him. She liked it so much that she did the referee training to earn some money on the side. And now they are one of the first of their kind.

Hopefully: It will not to be their last men’s World Cup

All six women are in their 30s, so they can be around for at least one more men's World Cup. Who knows, maybe one of the participating teams will even have a woman on the bench then?

In any case, Pierluigi Collina was already very open to female referees: "I would hope that in the future, the selection of elite women's match officials for important men's competitions will be preceived as something normal and no longer as sensational."

However, I predict that this will take some time. Because as long as there is only one female referee from time to time, it will not become normality. Take the UEFA Champions League and Stéphanie Frappart, for example: how much the world cheered at the significance of a woman being appointed to such a pregnant competition. Who doesn't remember Kate Abdo's "2020 is the year it matters to be a girl dad" that went viral? Frappart has been praised for her game leadership by teams and colleagues alike... but so far it's just a flash in the pan that is increasingly taking on the flavour of a PR strategy.

An appeal 

Football, the last bastion of pure masculinity - long since dilapidated. A dam that already has countless cracks through which the water runs. Football is turning from a place of masculinity into a motor for gender equality. Because the same rules apply, the same values, it's the same fields and changing rooms. Football is football - it has an influence on society and vice versa.

A hot tip: Promote women and do it without thinking about PR in the back of your mind. (Then you also get good karma for free.)

FIFA, CAF and CONCACAF are showing the other continental associations how quickly it can really be history that female referees make history. And then, only then, will it be in everyone's minds that football is football and a referee is a referee - regardless of gender identity.

Salima Mukansanga interview

From the same author, you can read an interesting interview with Salima Mukansanga, one of the six female referees at World Cup in Qatar:


  1. I am very grateful to Chefren for allowing me to be co-admin of his blog (he didn't *have* to do that!), but in this case I strongly disagree with the publishing of this propaganda article on Law 5. I know, or at least I think, it doesn't represent the majority of >90% of our users (and thanks to many for their eloquent and excellent observations on the previous post), and for me, it is a 'kick in the teeth' to read the same crap (sorry Ms. Tabarelli, but it is that...) on our blog as we will be forced to 'endure' during the WC, by people who even by good intention, do not understand the selection process generally, and therefore don't realise how vacuous these sex-based choices are.

    If it is allowed to make ridiculously political statements on the blog (I was genuinely furious when reading the "An appeal" section last weekend and still am that it has been allowed to appear on Law5), then perhaps I can reply with another - FIFA has no plan, they don't care about these women, only themselves, their PR (the idea that this can even be seperated from pure PR is beyond ludicruous) and their profits. But I fear the wide expectation that "if you can see it, you can be it" will genuinely create some women in ≈20yrs time who can appear on major tournaments on something vaguely approaching merit, then one might be disappointed (primary school teachers, firefighters... etc). I don't want to say more than that, but I guess my point is clear. Quite genuinely though, I would be very happy to be wrong! :)

    1. Mikael I agree with you (and don’t see how any informed reader can disagree, honestly) that the appointments of the six female officials are for PR and not based on merit. And I think that we as a blog can play a role in combatting this disinformation / propaganda. However, I think what makes this blog great is its commitment to allowing different points of view to be shared, so I am ok with seeing this article here. Besides, the article itself even makes quite a succinct argument against this “merit” falsehood by examining the experience of these officials; for example, Yamashita being appointed to the Champions League and World Cup before even being appointed to her country’s first league! I say, LET these articles be discussed, because any reasonable discussion of them can only lead to one logical conclusion.

    2. thank you mikael for your contribution! i never understand this gender-debate? why do we debate about the gender of the referees?

      for me refereeing is a service! and hence it is a competition about competence and decision quality!

      the gender doesn't matter! you are here to do your job and apply the laws of the game and the instructions!

      - a red card is a red card, no matter if you are male or female! - a handball is a handball, no matter if you are male or female! - offside is offside, no matter if you are male or female!

      do the laws of the game ask for gender? no! and guess what, i love that!

      the debate about gender doesn't lead to anything. neither do any quotas that try to push women into the professional game, e.g. uefa has a policy where you need to be referee in men's professional competition to be able to participate in the great tournaments such as this years EURO. look at the example of becki welch form england. "surprisingly" a year before euro22 she was pushed from league 2 into league 1 (3rd tier). what a statement towards uefa...same could be applied to many more. i dont understand why this needs to be done. they compete for their fifa badge in women's competition, not in men' bibi steinhaus proudly wearing here fifa-badge in bundesliga, which she obtained for her female competitions. i think this is also some kind of discrimination, as those women who would have made it without a quota due to their competence, are put in the same pot with those who only got their via quota. they are held in the same league while one got there with merit and one got there with quote only...

      getting calls right is the job. nobody should discuss if the call is made by male or female referee! if you cannot do that you are not the right one for the job.

  2. Please i need analysis for pre - world cup refereeing

    1. AFC (1/2)

      Al-Jassim: FIFA/QFA had twelve years to prepare (or rather ‘create’ is better way to say it) their ref for the home WC and the guy they went with and nurtured was him. Though they were one nation who actually never got a WC berth off Bouzo 86-02, Qatar were never politically insignificant in Asia (Bin Hammam, were in a ‘playoff’ for France ’98 vs. KSA which everyone forgets). Al-Jassim got very benign treatment as a consequence (he had Chile’s opening game of U17 WC 2015 when he became a FIFA referee in 2013), and they developed a sound referee. But with respect he isn’t thaaaat good, elegant style but too shaky/hesitant decisions. Without being too polemic, for ALL the focus they had on ‘creating’ such a ref, perhaps they could have expected him to be better in the end. Managing the hosts refs is a long story in FIFA refereeing and curious what they will do this time.

      Beath: Aussie is a good ref (by far better than JG :)) and deserves his WC spot. I think he is the best Australian ref since highly-rated Christopher Bambridge in the 1980s. Beath’s style is quite good, more of a ‘decision-taker’ type and charisma-less/distant, though not alienated by any means. BUT, idk if he improved from Tokyo 2020 final time where his foul recognition wasn’t really ‘deep’ for hard games and only adequate. On the premise that he hasn’t made huge improvements since, I think FIFA see him as a ‘safe pair of hands’ who understands ‘common-sense’, his role in the game etc.

      Faghani: Touted by many as a natural final ref, and if not for a different political constellation in 2018, may well have pipped Pitana for that gig in Moscow. I’m a bit less convinced personally - the thesis of his style is basically ‘cocksureness’, which is an EXCELLENT asset to have as African/Asian WC ref (typically you can always rely on their ‘level’ to drop about 20/30% on WC stage), but his performances in Confed Cup 17, Asian Cup 19, Arab Cup 21 were not spectacular by ANY means. FIFA obviously really like him. Even from his AFC interview, his self-belief is very clear (not arrogance, just confidence, to be clear). Classic case of variable x (his assurance and feeling he ‘belongs’ in WC final(s)) vs. variable y (weaker technical aspects). Depending on games, also corridor games, could end up with the final (he does have X-FACTOR) if he gets a good ‘run’.

    2. AFC (2/2)

      Ma: Actually a very good referee, WC-level. However the games I saw him referee better were the more challenging, lower key ones (such as in Chinese Super League). So perhaps we can call him ‘the reverse Faghani’. Did a VERY good job in well-tense IRQUAE WCQ, bearing in mind AFC’s not-very-good approach to ref education since ≈WC2014. He sometimes reminds me of watching Nielsen in later noughties - a bit of a ‘destroyed’ talent, who in the end lost his real merit and became basically an average referee. His refereeing understanding seems very good to me so having a free-hand + SELF-BELIEF (*looks in the mirror* -> “yes, I deserve to be at this WC”), he could have a very good tournament, but this seems unlikely. Probably reserve only, if he does ref a game I’d expect Grisha in ENGPAN 8,0 chaotic stuff unfortunately.

      Mohammad: Much worse technical skills than the Chinese but his performances will almost definitely be better in WC. MAHM’s big problem is that he can’t really assess foul duels very well, and as a consequence basically always lets a little too much go. In a tough game, like intercontinental playoff, he struggles (see Visser). He looks outerly assured but doesn’t really have much charisma, though his disciplinary choices are pretty good. WC experience should help him. I think FIFA probably exaggerated themselves how good he was -> struggled in CRCNZL, idk where he is now in their opinion.

      Who missed out? Shukralla, scandalously, perhaps his merit (in my eyes) is even close to Faghani’s - take away his Qatari linesman and his purpose no longer exists (they gave the game away in 2018 PANTUN about that). Does he personally abuse the referees committees in their internal meetings?! This is my only explanation for his treatment by AFC/FIFA at their tournaments where he never reached anything despite being very good. Makhadmah, whose merit is roughly the same as Al-Jassim’s, but he is only from Jordan, so goodbye. Maybe 2026 for him. And Satō, deservedly: a poor, poor referee.

    3. CAF (1/2)

      Gassama: I watched some interviews with the Gambian and it is clear to me that he is more of an intelligent person than a top referee (-> remember, FIFA see all these people in seminars, how they interact with other refs etc). I don’t like his style. He basically acts a policeman, angrily shouting back at players, and his base level of decisions isn’t great. He also has the propensity to do f***ing stupid things (MEXNZL, KSAJOR) which should be (are!) enough to get you rejected by an assessor in a semi-pro level game. He survived ridiculously difficult playoff game ALGCMR to get on the list. I wouldn’t have chosen him. I guess FIFA are very aware about his shortcomings and basically decided ‘better the devil you know’ after 2014, 2018 (probably ‘VAR can bail him out’ and an alright manager, is their logic).

      Ghorbal: Is a good/very good referee, 100% deserving WC spot. I find him short of the best North Africans ever though as his neither his soft-skills nor technical aspects are at the TOP, like Al-Ghandour/Belqola were respectively. Clearly grasps ‘common-sense’ which easily wins you points in FIFA’s book. Held his nerve in SENEGY which was NO small feat, but he basically fell apart in an even harder game before that, Al-Nassr vs. Al-Hilal Cup QF, despite having started well. I spent more negative words on the Algerian than I’d have liked, he is good, but my message would be don’t exaggerate his merit (also to FIFA).

      Gomes: The idea that he didn’t (semi) plan the ‘give my cards and whistle sarcastically to Salah’ thing is funny, but it was a genius move by the Portuguese-born South African as it PERFECTLY highlighted his big strength. No-nonsense-nous! Not the best in physical condition, sticks in the centre the FoP, disciplinary got better in the years that I watched him, very good manager though. I’d rate him higher than Ghorbal personally. If he can do the Faghani thing and look very ‘at home’ on WC stage, then Gomes can go far. He will retire immediately after the tournament btw, despite being aged only 40.

    4. CAF (2/2)

      N’Diaye: Like him as a referee but still a bit ‘raw’ for my taste, he’d be a perfect reserve this time - though I do expect him to ref a game. Stumbled across him in a decisive AFCON 2019 qualifier, DR Congo vs. Liberia, which he reffed well and contained a remarkable incident where he appealed *directly* to the object-throwing crowd to stop throwing objects at the Liberia players…and the crowd instantly stopped. Not a guy to mess with on the street, the thesis of his style is having aroused respect by his physical condition, picking adequate moments to caution players. Is a small nuance but this ISN’T taking control of the players by good decisions - once the players aren’t impressed with your body form, it can all fall apart, and it did in MARGEY AFCON QF, where his performance should have been rejected.

      Sikazwe: I don’t know if you saw but he had an interesting last AFCON… Zambian is a decent referee and IRQBHR, his second Arab Cup game, was on a good level and probably won him his ticket. He is just okay in technical/personality dimensions and to be honest, I would have left him at only WC 2018 - but, again ‘better the devil you know’ factor here. It seems obvious to me that he will be reserve only, but maybe I’m wrong. At least good that AFCON disaster didn’t stop FIFA from choosing him, but it seems the ‘Hansson’ treatment will follow… a good ref though whom’s selection I don’t begrudge.

      Who missed out? Tessema, the biggest scandal, I don’t know the reasons for his missing out and to be honest I actually don’t want to know, because it will just piss me off. Even better than Ghorbal and Gomes (IMO), the best African referee will stay at home. Ndala, who is even worse than Doué was and would have been the worst CAF ref at the WC since Idrissa Traoré; correct decision here. Jiyed, who I like but more limited physical condition but personality ‘skills’ (often screaming at players :D) counted against him. You can’t sum up modern refereeing better than that Jiyed is ‘milked’ for his obvious technical knowledge of refereeing, he will be in the VOR, and eg. Gassama instead is on the pitch.


      Barton: Byron Moreno-lookalike has many of the same qualities as as the excellent Ecuadorian (yes, this is my propaganda mission :)), one of the referees whom CONCACAF ‘created’ after WC2018. While we all agree that Mr Hall was wrong about many, many things in refereeing (his crap so brilliantly summed up by “be an actor”), one must say that he was ABSOLUTELY right about the Central American trio who will now attend Qatar and who all came (very) good. Okay, when you are that in-focus, you get the best training etc, but still. Much criticised on here for BRAGER in Tokyo, I thought his performance was good. Did struggle in USAMEX WCQ though. I genuinely don’t know what style he will choose for this WC, but he is a very good ref for sure.

      Elfath: His evaluation can be quick - personality, at the TOP; technical aspects, POTENTIAL to be verrrry weak. I like him generally (disciplinary was good the last times I watched him) and it seems FIFA share the same view. Never too far away from a ‘disaster’ though, and probably such a referee would not exist at the top level if not for video assistance. Nice run + US lobby could lead to late stages for him?

      Escobar: Hall’s favourite, very able referee. We all know about his no-card finals and different ‘styles’, but my contention is that he suffers a bit from what Velasco did - struggling to remain fully motivated and focused through the WHOLE game (though the Spaniard was a much worse case). If he can manage that in Qatar, then the Guatemalan is at the top for sure. Btw he will, hilariously for anyone who knows about the old WCs, be accompanied by one Trinidadian linesman.

      Martínez: Much respect to the Honduran from me because his performances as a 29 yo at U20 WC 2019 were a complete mess and he was FAR off the required level; I stayed up to watch his MEXSLV game at last Gold Cup because I was bored on holiday and it was on freeview and was quite stunned by the improvement he made since then. Still quite raw as Arab Cup showed (IRQOMA, manager on the pitch etc), and maaaybe I’d have gone with him as reserve this time in an ideal world, but his style is a masterclass IMO and he could easily have a great WC.

      Ramos: By far the poorest Mexican WC ref in my lifetime IMO (even Rodríguez was better in 2006/10), I don’t really understand why he was so favoured in the first place. He just got ‘invented’ by CONCACAF after WC2014 and was then on the road to the top. Not the greatest vote of confidence in him that they tried basically any Mexican who was available to replace him for 2022, but they all finally proved that they were even worse. That being said, he is decent enough, and if he focuses on carding consequently and defending his decisions with firmness perhaps he could even reach sth quite high in Qatar. But he needs to be willing to card consequently!!

      Who missed out? Montero, Pitti, W. López - all of whom Hall jettisoned and was proved absolutely correct to do so. Calderón was the other one favoured by the ex-CONCACAF leader, but too late. Guerrero, Escobedo and Hernández all spoilt it for themselves and can’t be bitter, but Marrufo’s case is a bit more complex: I guess they decided they didn’t want him around Summer 2021, felt bad so tried to have him as VAR, but then he pissed them off as VAR at Arab Cup, so they’d had enough of him. Villarreal as VAR can easily be read as compensation for this.

    6. CONMEBOL (1/2)

      Claus: A mostly better version of Ramos with the same faults compensated in the same way (crazily bad disciplinary). Two Brazilians this time is really exaggerated and being completely honest, I don’t think the tournament would be that much worse for neither of them being there (especially being replaced by Pitana/Loustau :)). Again, he is decent enough though, and by focusing on apt use of the yellow card and being firm, he could also reach sth.

      Matonte: There were three better options from his own country than him (and two of them really aren’t that good either), but the inexperienced late runner got the call in the end - Seneme seemed to ‘pluck’ him nowhere in order to prevent another Uruguayan getting the ticket. Average physical condition, average foul recognition but a decent ‘feel’ for when to pull out a caution. Has a good quality in that like eg. Gil Manzano, that he looks quite ‘competent’ to the untrained eye. Would be fine in a normal difficulty game but anything more and he is in choppier waters.

      Ortega: Made his way very quickly through CONMEBOL in this WC cycle. I ought to have watched more of him, but in the Olympics I had the feeling that he was SLIGHTLY pseudo-talented, but was very good in the Saudi game where I watched him. So for me the jury is out on him a bit but I like his selection overall. Doing the ‘maths’ it seems possible he will be reserve only though?

      Rapallini: Combines staying in the background with, and this is a bit too rare for such a style, STRONG personality. One of the top five refs in the world IMO. His EURO experience will have won him many points too. Funnily, I know that his performances in CONMEBOL weren’t really considered to be that good - at least before the EURO. It seems like after Ricci (though FR is much better imo), they created another ‘European South American’. I think he will be well-suited to the WC. No final for him, but if Albicelestes go out early, then nothing else should be off the table.

    7. CONMEBOL (2/2)

      Sampaio: I know he is more ‘popular’ among Law5 readers than Claus, but personally I don’t really see the other Brazilian as so much better. He is quite distant and I think the players don’t like him. Was able to handle tough games, but are quite a struggle for him owing to this personality dimension (I have ARGPAR at CA2019 on my mind). I don’t find his decisions especially excellent either. Overall I’d compare him to, say, Brisard. Probably he has Tello’s unexpected quality at Arab Cup (plus Seneme ofc) to thank for his appmnt. Is hard to say what will happen with the Brazilians, who will be more favoured - my gut feeling says Claus though.

      Tello: Did you see the Boca red cards game… I strongly suspect that his presence at Arab Cup was as ‘compensation’ rather than ‘preparation’ about a WC call, but he held his nerve in ALGEGY and I like his WC call - though I’d liked to have seen more than his three Arab Cup games and ten minutes in KSA to be more sure of it. His style is the answer to the question “what would Busacca have been like if he was good?” - verrrryyyy focused on the incidents, always staying calm. As we saw in the ten red cards craziness. Probably he will play the ‘Atkinson at EURO2016’ role, but good call-up for Tello who worked hard to force himself into the picture and got there off his own merit.

      Valenzuela: A very competent referee from Venezuela, completing the set of all ten CONMEBOL nations having had a WC official now. Valenzuela had an apt sense of timing, he was very good in the Sudamericana final where he replaced González, very good in the Olympics, very good in ARGCOL SF and finally, very good the last time I watched him, in a COLPER WCQ. He lacks an ‘X-Factor’ I think in movement, personality, calls and on the highest level falls into ‘solid’ regarding all those categories, however I like him and his WC selection for sure.

      Who missed out? Pitana, Loustau, Roldán we already knew. Andrés Rojas, what happened to him? I like Eber Aquino more than Díaz de Vivar but nothing on a WC level from Paraguay, nor Guerrero from Ecuador. The big surprise was no Tobar, though somehow I fully expected it. A shame for the Chilean who certainly had the quality to attend the WC in his career IMO.

    8. OFC

      Conger: Like Matonte, benefits from probably ‘looking’ better than he really is. Officiated on many, many exotic games to gain experience (Saudi, Chinese Cup final, UAE Cup final), doing a solid-enough job each time I saw him in that environment. Texan native who spent much of the last year back home in the US - this didn’t go down terribly well at OFC. The big target would be reaching a second game - Oceanian crew always made a big mistake since they didn’t include Australians in their WC inset since 2010, so avoiding that, perhaps they could equal Mark Shield’s Aussie crew in Germany.

      Who missed out? Zitouni went back to France, nothing for Hauata this time. Yareboinen for 2026 could be interesting…


      Frappart: Is obviously a competent referee, but even in Women’s EURO QF she struggled - when the going gets tough in terms of foul recognition, it looks as though she tries to replicate Kulbakou and hope for the best. Interesting she won the vote over Monzul - Frenchwoman looks better to the untrained eye but IMO the Ukrainian is actually superior despite her maternal/irritating style.

      Mukansanga: FIFA were said to be open-mouthed at her performances in Tokyo 2020. CAF women are basically treated as ‘damage-limitation’ operations by them so when she was actually not that bad, you can imagine how surprised they were! Watching her AFCON game was not a fun experience and I strongly hope FIFA won’t put us through that in the WC.

      Yamashita: Didn’t even get that much at WWC 2019 (the awful Chinese ref got retained and she didn’t), compensation for JFA (Satō), nothing more to be said.

      Btw the Mexican lineswoman, Díaz, caught my eye - she is surely a remarkable person. Besides Székely, I don’t think I EVER saw a stronger personality work as an AR at international level. Respect! I wonder if one of Ramos’s ARs will be booted out for her…

      Who missed out? Another reason, Ms. Tabarelli, why these selections are NOT heartwarming - the best female (IMO) got kicked out, first for injury, but then for demanding equal pay as a woman (please correct me if I got this wrong though, I don’t remember exactly), that is Umpiérrez. Venegas Montes retired, I thought she was good. The other woman to appear in men’s tournaments, Alves Batista, is a quite awful referee and FIFA saw the light there.

    9. UEFA (1/3)

      Kovács: Took his chance. I think we can say that he is ≈Valenzuela but with very good fitness. Remember - he was behind Kabakov, Treimanis, Grinfeld(!!) at winter 2019 in terms of LEVEL and his promotion was actually NOT deserved. I wish Vassaras would lobby for me… definitely used his verrryyy benign situation well and his WC call actually became mandatory. I think we should caution against how high we see him though - remember Man City vs. Atlético wasn’t Atlético vs. Man City, Man City vs. Real Madrid wasn’t Real Madrid vs. Man City. And his CL group stage was not spectacular. Obviously a very good ref, I expect a collecting experience tournament for him overall.

      Makkelie: We all know he is at the TOP but I have the feeling Rosetti demotivated him a lot and that his form atm isn’t at the top - in the same way that a British Prime Minister losing their Chancellor is seen as g’ment in chaos, when a referee changes his whistle set up, I immediately think it says sth (see Del Cerro fingergrip). Were Tottenham vs. Sporting and Ajax vs. PSV at the top? Idk. At his best is majestic to watch as a ‘ref fan’, still astonished by his performance in COVID Greek Cup semi where I’d have given him a ≈9,0 mark, also a few days after Real Madrid vs. Paris (extremely good performance considering UEFA22), he went to UAE and reffed their very challenging title decider wonderfully well - formidable mental strength. Obviously final level but we’ll see what happens.

      Marciniak: NOBODY seems to remember that Rosetti omitted him from EURO 2020 as a TECHNICAL CHOICE!! What a comeback by the excellent Pole. Struggling with his weight, the heart thing in the EURO summer… he did fantastically well and became Rosetti’s NO.1 man to save him this GS - Barca vs. Inter, Dinamo Z. vs. AC Milan, Marseille vs. Tottenham. He delivered them all exactly as UEFA wished (yes even this SFP). I hope he isn’t too tired as these games were extremely MENTALLY challenging events. Like Makkelie, one of the world’s top five refs and obviously candidate for seminal, final, etc.

      Mateu: If you can consider Makkelie as ‘Stalin’ (the man who brilliantly interprets and understands internal signals and replicates ‘what they want’ to make it thru the system; whilst DM *never* being sycophant/mediocre), then the Spaniard is rather ‘Lenin’, a ‘great man’ of history, a pure unorthodox talent whom comes around only once a generation (Agnolin, Frisk). Idc he isn’t that popular internally, he is the referee’s referee. No wonder they send him to all the fun games like ITASWE which NOBODY else could handle… btw he was actually a mess before about Summer 2016, where his disciplinary was all-over-the-place, but in Man City vs. Monaco and Lyon vs. Besiktas he arrived at the TOP. Choosing Del Cerro over him would have been a travesty. The guy you want for ‘Argentina vs. Uruguay 86 repeat’, obviously final candidate if it goes well.

    10. UEFA (2/3)

      Oliver: Does Collina like him thaaaat much? I wonder if this is a trifle exaggerated and rather Collina listened to Elleray for those ‘development’ 2018 KO games - remember the bald Italian promoted BOTH of MO/AT at once. Youngsters are a big fan of him as they somehow identify with this ‘youthful-looking’ and charismaless guy. Is very good technically but I already saw in CL the players are a bit less impressed with his ‘matey-ness’ way of interacting with them than PL. Idk what to expect from him at this WC but he solved games like ECUURU at U20 WC also very well. Hope he has ditched the ‘minimal disciplinary’ as possible UEFA22 stuff but I haven’t watched him in full for a while (disciplinary was a strength so don’t piss it away Michael!!).

      Orsato: Still an excellent referee and he can barely run :D. Remember he was like old Zverev who was at the TOP in three-sets (Serie A) but couldn’t really crack the grand slams (UEFA) - BUT Collina gave him a break by PSV vs. Atlético KO debut in 2016 and gradually he worked it out, and became one of Europe’s top referees in time. Idolises the best referee ever, his major asset is said to be communication in Italian dialect which obviously isn’t relevant at this WC. Showed he can still pull it out of the fire in POLSWE playoff where he was fantastic. Hopefully he isn’t ‘siga, siga, siga’ in Qatar but I’m slightly struggling to see the other option; again, he really can barely run now…

      Siebert: Graham Poll writes that he preferred club to international football, for the Berlin teacher the opposite is surely true. People were too harsh on him for after EURO period: POLENG was very good, Arab Cup was at the TOP, PORTUR playoff was at the TOP. Still angry at Rosetti for destroying him when it was reallllyyyyy obvious what was going to happen (road to Atlético vs. Man City). He DID struggle at this start of this season (eg. Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim game I watched), but AC Milan vs. Chelsea was better overall, discounting the DOGSO. Am more optimistic than most for his WC but of course depends on what shape he is really in.

      Taylor: At his best when he tries to replicate Michel’ (being very focused on making very good calls, not so much charisma). I did smile at ‘Taylor is having too many OFRs now’ comment - no, Taylor ALWAYS had too many OFRs. It is the price he pays for his concentrated style that unlike the Slovakian, he is not so sound on big calls. Rosetti trusts that he gets it, see (actually scandalous but nvm) ITASUI. To be perfectly honest I find his consideration a trifle exaggerated, but again, a very good referee for sure. How his first match goes VERSUS Oliver’s crew is obviously very important.

    11. UEFA (3/3)

      Turpin: The already determined final referee I read… :). You should always apply Hanlon’s razor to Rosetti - he (Čeferin) actually DOESN’T like the Frenchman that much (see how he arrested his development after Summer/18), despite Talent-Mentoring him. EL final was a mandatory call, CL final was only because Makkelie became persona-non-grata in Paris. Obviously very lucky to be (now-departed) Garibian’s golden boy, but also he worked hard - compare AUTHUN and PERNZL and you will see by FAR more than eighteen-months difference, but indeed that is all it was. Lost the plot by the end of RUSDEN though, hopefully he doesn’t repeat this feat at the WC. At his best when relaxed, and carding freely.

      Vinčić: Adapted very well as the Slovenian showed many cards in the old days, but developed his player interactions and style to become a ‘modern referee’. Moves excellently but with a certain languidness. Obviously with Šajn whispering in his ear but Collina pushed him which was a surprise at the time considering Jug/Skomina were around, but in the end was proved quite right. Is slightly away from the very TOP in my opinion, despite good soft skills somehow he lacks just a little bit of ‘charismatic leadership’. AUSPER was very good modern reffing, New Zealand manager’s praise should say it quite well, I wonder how many points this won him for FIFA. Probably GS only I guess in Qatar.

      Who missed out? Schärer, Jovanović - too early. Hategan, Çakir, Karasëv - I’m sorry. Soares Dias was the only other one but he torpedoed himself after ENGCZE and can’t really complain about that.

    12. As a historian, I'm not sure about the Stalin / Lenin comparison. I'd say that Makkelie is extremely adaptable and that certainly doesn't suit in with the comparison you made.

      I did wonder however: what do you mean by 'Busacca if he was good'?
      I remember Busacca as quite a good referee, with some strange mannerisms and a bit of a lack of focus.

    13. Wonderful to read your views Mikael. Don't agree on all but the sheer depth and comprehensiveness of analysis is very impressive!

    14. Thanks mikael very much but in your opinion before wc who the big names candidates for the final?

    15. @Stalin - I'm not really interested in policies, 'morals' but their progress through bureaucracy. Stalin was 'a product of the (Bolshevik) system', whereas Lenin was a radical in Tsarist times. Makkelie is excellent and he deeply understands how 'the powers that be' think - for instance, in yesteryear you'll see some very strict performances by him (NIRPOR), but when the wind changed, he adapted too. For sure he's very flexible in terms of approach etc. I understand the comparison maybe doesn't read well, but I meant it as a complement! :D

      @Busacca - For sure he was good, I was being tongue-in-cheek, but in reality I found him very overrated. He struggled in tough games.

      @Thomas - Thanks! :)

      @Mohamed - Faghani, Marciniak, Makkelie, Mateu should be the front-runners I'd say.

    16. @Mikael
      Interesting analysis, but you forget to mention that Clément TURPIN is UEFA's frontrunner:

      - Turpin has a stronger political background than Marciniak and Makkelie. It seems, France and Qatar have a good connection and after 2016-2018-2020, the FFF are hungry to have a referee at the very last stages of this World Cup;

      - Turpin attended the FIFA Club World Cup 2022;

      - Turpin was assigned to the UCL final 2022. I strongly believe, this UCL final was all planned in advance. The FFF was very dissapointed after Turpin was sent home after the UEFA2020 groupstage. In addition, two dutch referees handled respectively a SF and F; impossible that the Dutch would get the UCL final 2022 (I hope this didn't demotivate Danny Makkelie). Therefore, the UEFA refcom blatantly kept Turpin in cotton wool: Bayern-Salzburg R16, a football-focused Chelsea-Real "safe" first leg QF and a bunch Europa League games. Just admit: would Rosetti ever "burn" his number 1 candidate in a Real Madrid - PSG second leg? I doubt it (e.g. Kuipers, Monzul).

      Turpin was pushed for a reason and we cannot close our eyes for this. Why are you lowering our expectations of TURPIN so much?

    17. Some thoughts:

      GOMES: Wow, I can’t believe he’s retiring already!

      SIKAZWE: I disagree with your analysis, because why would they bring him in the first place (and welcome the, even temporary, media circus that came with that) if they did not plan on using him? If the plan was to just have him stand between the benches, his AFCON struggle would’ve been the perfect reason to leave him home. No, the fact that he is here means that he is still considered amongst the top CAF refs and will get at least one whistle. Then again, I suppose I would’ve made the same argument for Hannson back in 2010, an example you rightly bring up.

      RAMOS: A polarizing referee for sure, but I think he’s actually really quite good and has the potential to reach even greater heights at this World Cup than last. He very much adopts a “let them play” attitude… I’ve grown to respect it. The players, coaches, and referee committee should always know exactly what to expect when they see his name, and I think it’s a style that FIFA prefer.

      BARTON/MARTINEZ: I actually think you have Martinez and Barton backwards. Barton might have more potential, but he’s had a few really shaky performances in the past ~year, most notably the first leg of the CCL Final. Maybe FIFA liked his Olympics enough, but he actually took a step backwards in 2021-22 to me. Neither him or Martinez are really that good yet - I don’t think either is truly World Cup quality, and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them whistle a combined total of one game. I think Martinez is the real 4th-ranked concacaf referee for this tournament while Barton is here only as a support.

      MARRUFO: The most skilled and most experienced referee in Concacaf left at home… He is like a racecar driver: Very few referees in the world have the ability to be so in control of a game that is going 200 miles per hour. Excuse my American bias, but football as a spectacle is the real loser here.

      (One further note on concacaf: I actually contend that John Pitti was a plenty good referee, absolutely capable of refereeing in the World Cup either in 2018 or 2022. And his performance in the (in)famous Nations League final was actually really good in a match of SUPER high difficulty! Sadly, Hall had no further need for him, preferring instead to push his young, mediocre prodigies.)

      LAHOZ: Lol, I didn’t expect the Soviet history lesson XD

  3. I will repeat again and again and sound like parrot but here is the thing;
    instead of awarding men refs for their great performances fifa will rather promote gender equality.

    And thats not knock on Frappart or any other women,the thingis,they are not better than some refs that were left out.

  4. FIFA implements radical feminism without cover!

  5. Last game of Rui Licínio (Soares Dias AR1) was a hour ago.
    One of the greatest FIFA AR Retiring.

  6. Months back when the names were first revealed, I was far from the only one to pick up that instead of giving trios as FIFA normally does, we had lists of refs and list of ARs. Once studying them, one was quick to realize that the female refs were "without a trio" so to say, which tells you a lot about what is the reasoning behind FIFA decisions.

    I haven't seen all of these referees to the extent I wish and that would make comfortable judging whether or not they deserve to be at the World Cup - men and women alike. Of course, "deserving" plays little role in the world of politics that is high level football refereeing. That is a truth of life nobody needs me to tell them. Therefore, I find the whole idea about "Do they deserve to be there?" somewhat absurd. There were always "better" refs that did not see a World Cup due to not being liked by those in charge.

    FIFA clearly needs a PR victory considering the controversy surrounding this tournament and the much lauded (rightfully so!) improvement of women's football over the years offers this opportunity. My best guess would be that these women are seen as FOs and Reserve ARs and in case an appropriate match appears (something like PANTUN in 2018), FIFA will grab the headline by appointing an all-female team (Frappart with Díaz Medina and Nesbitt would be my guess).

    Still, with VAR in operation and how it has changed the look at refereeing, I do not genuinely think that even appointing all of them for a match would not lead to disaster. Especially for ARs, semi-automated offsides and VAR bails out a lot. For FIFA, it boils down to if a referee can do a somewhat ok job and be bailed out by VAR, he or she is good enough. Everyone on the list should be able to do that in theory.

    In principle, the development of women's refereeing is a good thing, but in the case of this tournament, one can't help but feel this was and is rushed to satisfy the politics and create a couple of feel good stories. Only if the development of female referees is strengthened further can a model like this - having female officials at top tournaments - be a model of the future. In that regard, the expanded WWC next year is a much bigger topic than the theoretical performances in Qatar.

    Unfortunately, I feel like this is ultimately a "poisoned" topic, where support of female refs is seen as "propaganda", "inclusive" or whatever and opposing them as "sexism" etc. As much as constructive discussions are the very reason this blog exists, I fear they lead to little in this case.

    1. I think HowardMaxi has written a very good comment here (thank you for it).

      I don't think the last few days have covered us, as a blog (community), in the best light - male commenters lining up against a female journalist to lambast her article(s), one blog admin ripping another in the comments, perhaps an exaggeratedly inflammatory tone (eg. "propaganda") adopted too. For sure it is an evokative topic, and one which understandably produces strong emotions, but I'm not really sure that a young, aspiring female official would have taken much heart from reading us in recent times that they are welcome in football refereeing, and so on.

      Keeping Marxian societal analysis -- "Football, the last bastion of pure masculinity - long since dilapidated." -- out of a refereeing blog might be a good start, but it is obvious that Tabarelli went to some effort to research all of this stuff, and the journeys of these female officials are indeed quite interesting. It would have been veerryyy challenging starting out on grassroots games for these officials as young women, and must have taken some perseverance to have progressed through those levels.

      So, they deserve our respect and I wish all six the best of luck at the WC. My views remain completely unchanged and the 'job' of us as a blog is NOT to gloss over the facts. However (for what it is worth), I offer an 'olive branch' to both Petra Tabarelli and especially Chefren, and hope that no hard feelings result from a difference of opinion on this (editorial) matter.

    2. For me there are no problems, we can have very different ideas. I decided to publish this article on a kind request from the writer and it seemed to me very interesting to read her point of view. We don't want to convince people about anything. It is the spirit of the blog, to discuss, it would be very poor if we all agreed about everything.
      Having said that, the presentation of female officials was surely something very important because it is the first time or them at World Cup. Taking apart the process of selection, they have been called and that's a fact. Then, we can "work" on it!
      I also want to say that the analysis you wrote about all confederations deserved a separated post :) but you already published it here!

  7. Some "early" info from Arbitro Internacional (thank to them as always for their work): it seems as appointments are expected two days before the respective games, like UEFA.
    In addition, the first four appointments should be made with referees from 4 different confederations... and that's something I needed to know before today because a few hours ago I just sent my predictions without respecting this criterion :( (but it was impossible to know it before...).

    1. Why is that (re: 4 different confederations) 'Busacca's pattern'?

      In 2018 we had three UEFA referees in the first four matches: Pitana in RUSKSA, Kuipers in URUEGY, Çakir in IRIMAR, Rocchi in PORESP.

    2. Do we actually know how many VARs will work for each match? I guess with the new calibrated lines, we won't see ARs working as AVAR?

    3. According to kicker, there will be one VAR, one further referee, one further assistant (specifically for offside) and one support official (watching the TV pictures) in the video operations room. So basically, the same as last time, it seems.
      Furthermore they write: "The referee teams will be formed according to language skills."
      Not sure, whether they have any inside knowledge there.

  8. OT: Question about YC at YC in this situation is supposed to be for not only for tactical foul but for one that stops a "promising attack." In the above play, the ball is kicked too far ahead and appears to be going out of bounds before the offense player would be able to play it had she not been fouled, but let's say it is more clear that the ball could not be reached in time. Is YC still warranted?

  9. According to Arbitro Internacional:
    Internal fight in FIFA for Qatar - Ecuador appointment, strong political pressure to appoint a referee like Stéphanie Frappart, while techcnical committee seems not to agree, talking about a risk, considering how Qatar plays. Their names are Vincic, Turpin or Marciniak. Very often, such fights end with a totally different name than the real candidates, as they don't find an agreement...
    BTW if this is the real management behind the scenes, once again, it is absolutely poor if you ask me, again, a technical committee shouldn't accept any interference in making appointments.

    My original idea for this game was indeed Vincic and I hope they will appoint him :D My reasoning was that a quite strong name was needed because nowadays Opener has become like a Final in big tournaments (and one could write a poem about that... if this is right or not), but names like Turpin and Marciniak were "too much" to be used in such a game, while Vincic, given the background and his expectations (not ther real skills) was an absolutely suitable choice for that.

    1. I thought the decison was taken by now. I hope that the committee will resist the outside pressure, Collina should have the final word, the right of veto; and I trust him. Please do not make me not to watch the opening game. I predicted Turpin.

    2. I predicted Ghorbal. An African referee, experienced with hot matches, neutral.

    3. Well, I would not have anything against Marciniak getting the opener as this was my prediction…

  10. I hope Cesar Ramos from Mexico will referee the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador

  11. OT

    Very sad news from France.
    French Ligue 1 referee Johan Hamel passed away yesterday evening after the end of a training session, due to a massive stroke.
    He was often 4th official in European competitions, and his last game was Lille-Rennes on 6th November (he was VAR 3 days ago on PSG-Auxerre).
    French refereeing is very sad this morning.

    Repose en paix Johan

    1. Oh, rest in peace, Johan!

      I still remember I watched the Marseille v Lille game in 2011 he refereed very well while being a third tier referee (top referees refused to whistle that matchday). A very safe pair of hands in Ligue 1. So sad...

    2. Tragic news. Répose en paix, Johan.

      Poor French referees can't catch a break after losing Sébastien Desiage a couple of years ago.

    3. Tragic news. Sounds like what happened to Hațegan a few months ago. He, as a doctor, recognised the signs and went to the hospital; and cmaybe he will be back in 2023. Unfortunately, nothing could be done for Johan. Rip.

    4. I'm heartbroken to learn this.
      He was a very nice and humble man, with a positive attitude in and out the pitch. Sadly we have to mourn another Ligue 1 official, after Sébastien Desiage's death two years ago.
      Repose en paix, Johan

    5. Terrible news, may he rest in peace and our deep feelings to all people close to him.

    6. I express my deepest condolences to all the people close to him and to the French refereeing community.

      Rest in peace, Johan.

    7. What a shock... I wishes all strength to his friends and family

    8. Very sad news :( Rest in peace Johan

    9. I just realized that Johan Hamel was also 4th official at Real Madrid - Celtic two weeks ago where Stéphanie Frappart made her debut in the Champions League.

    10. That wasn’t her debut in the Champions League, but yes, Hamel was her fourth official such a short time ago. One wonders how Frappart, Turpin, and their colleagues in Qatar must be feeling right now…


    a fun “day in the life” style video about Maguette N’Diaye

    1. Short but absolutely interesting, thanks!

  13. @chefren Do you think that for having refereed the opening match of the Arab Cup last year, Marciniak has an advantage?
    I also remember that he refereed the semifinal between QAT-ALG, is that an advantage or a disadvantage?

    1. To be honest, I don't think that committee will consider that. It is neutral if you ask me, no advantage / no disadvantage for Marciniak.

  14. FIFA Referee Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina was a guest on the ESPN FC podcast Gab & Juls. They spoke about everything refereeing with regards to the upcoming world cup. Link here:

    1. Or you can find it manually in here if that doesn't work.

    2. Written version:

  15. When will we know first appointments?

    1. At least the appointment for the opening game should come today I think.

    2. According to what Arbitro Internacional reported, today we should have tha name for Qatar - Ecuador, then all appointments for the respective games, two days before. Let's see whether this will be confirmed or not.

    Referees press conference in about 13 minutes.
    14:00 CET
    We are close to know the first appointment!

    1. The quality of the press conference ist quite amateurish. Delayed start of the stream after it has already started. Bad audio after a few minutes and camera has to zoom out as if someone is filming with a home camera so you miss half the clips shown.

    2. Yes, absolutely. Very poor organization for this press conference. Collina talking about what referees will not tolerate during World Cup, hopefully something in this regard will follow! Otherwise we could comment like "always the same words...". Now also explaining new updates of LotG.
      There is an empty chair close to them and I think they will present later the referee for Game 1.

    3. I can't understand how FIFA can accept such a poor quality. Yes, not many people will watch such a referee conference, but the technical quality looks embarrassing. Let alone the boring speech by Collina. Nothing new. I'm solemnly watching because I'm eager to know the first appointment. Hopefully they'll hurry. Have to pick up the kids :-)

    4. Too long and very boring now, can't wait for the release of appointments!

    5. Let me say with all respect, how much stupid questions by journalists... like this one: "What if a referee doesn't want to follow the SAOT in a game?"
      The problem with this arguments is that for those who are experts, it is boring and easy to talk about, while for all the rest (journalist, fans..) it is too much complex and they can't understand in a so short time about, also, I would say most of them don't even care.

    6. To be honest: Absolutely disappointed with this press conference. They missed the chance to win the spectators as fans for the refereeing before this big event.

    7. So no appointments. Please...

    8. Chefren is right, I am sometimes astonished by the sheer amount of stupidity heard from, and that's the most embarrassing aspect, sports journalists. Sometimes I wonder which exact sport have they been covering for all these years.

      Regarding the press conference itself, embarrassingly low technical quality for such an event. The year is 2022, not 1982, someone should tell that to the organisers. However, I still think such an event could be extremely useful for the general public to familiarise themselves with refereeing, but if you make it this boring and technologically bad, then it's just a missed opportunity. What I mean by "boring" is that it's all just too much for the general public, too complex (evidenced by the questions) and most people probably lost their attention pretty quickly.

      That last question was a pretty bold move, if I may say so...

  17. No appointments are released yet and I half asleep 😂 but the last question from Daily Mail guy is quite interesting

  18. Thank you for waisting 90min of my time.


  19. It was an embarrassing conference

  20. Was the appointment released?

    1. Some reports on twitter said Frappart, but not confirmed yet

  21. Given the very long delay before press conference, an empty chair close to Collina and Busacca, and the fact that referee for the opener was not announced in that occasion, I think they are still discussing and very likely the appointment is not made at moment. I can't find other explanations, otherwise they would have easily published the name after the conference. Then, following a certain logic, it would be also strange to have the name right now, only a few time after the end of the public speech, my idea is that we could even have to wait for tomorrow. But I can be wrong, of course...

  22. Orsato to Qatar - Ecuador. According to ArbitroInternacional

    1. Not bad to start with 10 points in predictions game

  23. I think Daniele Orsato (Italy)

  24. Árbitro Internacional
    The opening of the World Cup between Qatar vs Ecuador will be directed by Daniele Orsato of Italy

  25. A lot of reports that Orsato has the opener


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