Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita is one of three women chosen to officiate matches in Japan Globalism The trophy – the first time a woman has taken charge on the game’s biggest stage – isn’t just about football.
Stephanie Frappart of France and Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda must be of the same opinion. They are among a group of 36 listed referees in Qatar – the rest are all men. FIFA also appointed three assistant referees to a group of 69 referees: Newza Pac from Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States.
Yamashita understands that her selection focuses 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 that,” Yamashita said in an interview with the Associated Press. “In Japan, there is still a long way to go in the world of football (in terms of women’s participation), so it would be great if this linked to promoting female participation in different ways, not just in football or in sports.”
All three have worked men’s matches, and their first World Cup appearance comes in a Middle Eastern country where women’s roles are closely defined.
Frappart is the most famous and has already worked men’s matches in World Cup and Champions League qualifiers. She also officiated the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, and officiated the men’s French Cup final this year.
Yamashita worked matches in the men’s J.League, and was also in charge of the Asian league equivalent of the men’s UEFA Champions League. She was also a judge at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Earlier this year, Mukansanga became the first woman to officiate an Africa Cup of Nations match, leading an all-women management team.
“As always, the criteria we used are ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” said Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, who participated in the 2002 World Cup Final. In this way, we clearly affirm that it is the quality that matters to us, not the gender.
“I hope that in the future the selection of elite women’s match officials for important men’s competitions will be seen as normal and no longer exciting.”
Of course, the difference in the men’s and women’s matches, Yamashita said, was speed. But it’s not just that some men might run faster.
“It’s the speed, but not just the players’ speed,” she told the AP. “It’s not the speed of the ball. It’s just the speed of the game. For me that means I have to make faster decisions — more speed.”
Then there’s the tension, the bigger stage, and the interest it’s sure to generate in the World Cup.
She said, “Of course, I think the pressure is overwhelming, and I think I have a lot of responsibility. But I’m really happy to take that duty and the pressure, so I try to take it positively and I try to be happy.”
Although it is possible that all three are responsible for the games, this is not taken for granted. They can also be used as a “fourth official” on the sideline. However, they cannot be used as auxiliaries.
Like many referees, Yamashita said her job is to stay out of the way and let the game shine.
“One of the big goals as a referee is to highlight the appeal of football,” she said. “I’m doing my best for it, and I’m going to do what I have to do at the time to that end. So if I need to communicate with the players, I’ll do it. If I need to show a card, I’ll show a card. Instead of controlling, I’m thinking about what I should do about it.” The big goal of showing the attractiveness of football.”
Yamashita did most of the interview with the AP in Japanese, but said she will use English and “facial gestures and body gestures” when communicating with players in Qatar.
“Normally when I give a card, I don’t say anything,” she said, passing into English. “But when I give a warning, I tell them I’m not happy. They understand.”
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