Stephanie Frappart is set to make history when she becomes the first woman to referee a major European men’s match this evening.
The 35-year-old French official will be joined by two female assistant referees for the Uefa Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea in Istanbul.
Frappart’s two assistants – compatriot Manuela Nicolosi and Ireland’s Michelle O’Neal – worked with her for the Women’s World Cup final in Lyon last month.
The move has been hailed as an “inspiration to millions of girls and women around Europe” by Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, who also said it will show “there should be no barriers in order to reach one’s dream”.
Who is Stephanie Frappart?
Many believe trailblazing Frappart to be the best female referee around.
According to an interview in 2014 with French newspaper L’Express, Frappart first became interested in the laws of the game when she was a teenage footballer in the Val d’Oise.
She stopped playing football around the age of 18 to follow her dream of becoming a referee.
She told the paper: “I played football at home in the Val d’Oise, then around 13-14 I became interested in the laws of the game.
“I turned to my district and I quickly started refereeing matches… around 18-20 years [old] I had to choose between football and refereeing.”
And it proved to be a move she never looked back on. In April she became the first female to referee a Ligue 1 match when she took charge of a game between Amiens and Strasbourg.
She has also become the first woman to be promoted to the elite pool of referees for French Ligue 1 games for next season.
But she is not the first woman to be assigned to a competitive men’s match by Uefa, as Switzerland’s Nicole Petignat became the first woman to do so when she refereed three Uefa Cup qualifiers between 2004 and 2009.
However, the Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea will be the first time a major European men’s match will be officiated by a woman – something that Uefa chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti says she “fully deserves”.
He added: “Stephanie has proved over a number of years that she is one of the best female referees, not just in Europe but across the world.
“She has the ability to officiate on the biggest stage, as she proved at this year’s Women’s World Cup final. I hope this match in Istanbul will provide her with yet more experience as she enters the prime of her refereeing career.”
In a statement, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said: “As an organisation, we place the utmost importance on the development of women’s football in all areas.
“I hope the skill and devotion that Stephanie has shown throughout her career to reach this level will provide inspiration to millions of girls and women around Europe and show them there should be no barriers in order to reach one’s dream.”
Ahead of the Women’s World Cup in July, Frappart told Fifa: “It’s a huge source of pride to be appointed for this match because I represent all of the referees at this World Cup. It’s a major recognition.
“It’s impossible to describe my emotions because we’ve all been working for several years to get here, a bit like the players.”
In the same interview she said officiating top-flight matches in France was both a recognition of her abilities and a source of pride.
“I started refereeing in Ligue 1 last season, taking charge of two games,” she said. “It was a huge recognition of my abilities and hard work. It was also a way of showing every young girl that it’s possible to reach that level if you work hard and give yourself the means to get there.”
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