It was an epoch-making day when Stephanie Frappart reached another historic landmark in her professional career as a referee by becoming the first woman to ever officiate a men’s World Cup qualifying match, when she handled the whistle on Saturday.
Frappart took charge of the Netherlands’ fixture against Latvia overseeing a 2-nil victory for the Dutch hosts at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam. Steven Berghuis, in the first half, and Luuk de Jong, in the second, gave the Netherlands relief from their opening 2022 World Cup qualifying defeat to Turkey.
The 37-year-old referee had a straightforward game with no controversial decisions or any dissent with her conclusions.
She flashed yellow cards to defaulters, with the two sides equally picking up the exact same number of two cards each; going to Kriss Karklins, Janis Ikaunieks of Latvia, while the Dutch team got theirs through Daley Blind and De Jong.
This history-making, as profound as it is, is not novel to Frappart, who grew up as a history maker. In December last year, the French-born official became the first woman to referee a Champions League match when Juventus beat Dynamo Kiev 3-0.
In her catalogue of historic achievements, Frappart holds the honour of refereeing the 2019 Super Cup clash between Liverpool and Chelsea and officiating a Ligue 1 match in the same year.
From her humble beginnings when she started playing football at the age of 10 to discovering her niche as a referee, she has become a symbol of what a girl who excels in her area of expertise can accomplish.
Right behind Frappart is her referee colleague Kateryna Monzul, from Ukraine. Monzul will follow Frappart’s lead when she officiates a men’s World Cup qualifier between Austria and Faroe Islands on Sunday. With honours such as the Best Arbiter of the 2019/2020 Ukrainian Premier League, 39-year-old Monzul has as high a record refereeing important matches like Frappart has.
A legend of the whistling business, the former Italian referee Pierluigi Collina, who was named FIFA’s “Best Referee of the Year” six consecutive times and is widely considered to be the greatest football referee of all time, has had nothing but praises for Frappart and Monzul for the progress they have made in football and how they are rewriting the history of the profession.
In his words: “Although they already had some matches in important men’s competitions under their belts, officiating a FIFA World Cup qualifier for the first time is special and is something to be very proud of.
“They have worked very hard in recent years and these appointments are recognition for the good job that they have done.”