Judge Stephanie Frappart makes history at the World Cup in

Judge Stéphanie Frappart makes history at the World Cup in Qatar

(CNN Spanish) — In Qatar, where law and practice systematically discriminate against women, a woman made history on Tuesday: Stéphanie Frappart became the first referee in a World Cup match.

The 38-year-old Frenchwoman was the fourth judge of the confrontation between Mexico and Poland for Group C, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

She is not a new figure in major competitions: she has been standing out in the world of arbitration for years and since 2019 she has led the ranking of the best referees in the world, according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS, for its acronym in English).

Stéphanie Frappart, a career breaking barriers

“I started as a player, I started playing in a division, and then I wanted to know the rules of the game, I was only interested in that, and I started taking some courses,” she told CNN in an interview in 2019. At that time, she recalled, the women’s football was not as developed as it is now. She opted for arbitration “and the choice was the right one.”

When she started training, there were no women in her group. He trained with men and began to referee men. “Sometimes they asked (the reasons for being a judge) because they wanted to know and comment on the decision. I tried to explain, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to understand,” she said.

In 2019, the Frenchwoman became the first woman to referee a men’s final in European soccer, in a match between Liverpool and Chelsea. Two years later, she was the first to occupy the main position in a UEFA World Cup qualifying match in Qatar. The match she refereed was the Netherlands against Latvia in Amsterdam.

She has also been a judge in matches in the French league and in the second division of the European league.

The Qatar paradox

The setting for this milestone in the history of football could hardly be more paradoxical: in Qatar women face numerous forms of discrimination based both in law and in practice.

In this Muslim-majority country, women are still subject to the male guardianship system, so they must seek permission from their guardians (father, husband, brother, etc.) for important decisions such as getting married, traveling and studying abroad (up to the age of 25) and work in public employment, among others, according to Amnesty International.

Women must also request permission to access reproductive health treatment and basic gynecological check-ups such as Papanicolaou tests, among other multiple violations of their rights.

Frappart, he told CNN years ago, did not embark on this race to make history. “I didn’t think about breaking down barriers or making history, just doing my job and that alone.” However, the truth is that since 2019 he has not stopped making history.

With information from Luis Gerardo Bucci and Mario González