Referee Yoshimi Yamashita knows that being one of three selected to officiate matches at the World Cup in Qatar, the first time a woman will be in charge of a game in a tournament of this magnitude, she will overtake football.
France’s Stephanie Fraparte and Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga must have only one thing on their mind. They are part of a list of 36 referees selected for Qatar, and the rest are men. FIFA also named three female assistants to its list of 69s: Nuza Bak from Brazil; Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico, and Catherine Nesbitt from the United States.
Yamashita is aware that her election has been in the headlines for Japan’s low ranking in the most equal pay rankings for women and in global studies on gender equality.
“I would be very happy if women could take an active role in sports like this, and if sports, and soccer in particular, could lead to that,” Yamashita said in an interview with the Associated Press. “In Japan, the world of football (in terms of women’s participation) still has a long way to go, so it would be great if it could be combined to promote women’s participation in not only football or sports . Play”.
All three have officiated in men’s soccer matches, and their World Cup debut will be in a Middle Eastern country where women’s roles are very limited.
Frapart refereeing Qatar and Champions League qualifiers, as well as the 2019 Women’s World Cup final and this year’s men’s Coupe de France final, are most famous.
Yamashita has officiated at the Japanese men’s league and the Asian equivalent of the men’s Champions League, as well as at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Earlier that year, Mukansanga became the first woman to referee an Africa Cup of Nations match, leading an all-female refereeing team.
“As always, the criterion we have used is ‘quality first’, and the referees selected represent the highest level of world referees,” said Pierluigi Colina, president of the FIFA Referees Committee, who whistled at the 2002 World Cup final. Was. “As such, let us explicitly emphasize that what matters to us is quality, not gender.”
“I hope that in the future, the selection of elite female referees for important men’s competitions will be considered something ordinary, not something sensational,” she said.
Yamashita pointed out that the difference between the men’s and women’s matches was certainly one of pace. But it is not that men can run fast.
“It’s not the speed of the ball. It’s just the pace of the game. For me, that means I have to make decisions faster, at a greater pace,” he explained to the Associated Press.
There is tension too, the magnitude of the scenario and it will certainly attract attention in the World Cup.
“Of course, I think the pressure is huge,” he said. “And I feel like I have a lot of responsibility. But I am very happy about this duty and this pressure, so I try to take it in a positive way and try to be happy.”
While it is likely that all three games will be refereeed, it is not certain. They could also act as the “fourth referee” on the field of the bench, but they would not be able to act as an assistant.
Like many umpires, Yamashita said that his job is to keep a low profile and let the game shine.
“One of the great objectives as a referee is to highlight the allure of football,” he said. “I will do everything I can to that end, and until that time I will do whatever I want to do. So if I need to communicate with the players, I will. If I have to show the cards, then I will show the cards. More than control, I think about what needs to be done towards the noble goal of making football attractive.
Yamashita conducted most of the interviews with the Associated Press in Japanese, but said he would use English and “face and body gestures” when communicating with players in Qatar.
“Usually when I show a card I don’t say anything,” he said, switching to English. “But when I warn, I tell them I’m not happy. They get it.”