Stéphanie Frappart has been the name on everybody’s lips since 2019.
In the spring, she was employed for the first time in the French Ligue 1, and in August of the same year she already refereed the UEFA Super Cup with an all-female crew of referees. Further assignments followed in 2020 in the Europa League, the Nations League and finally as the first female referee in the Champions League. Plus her assignment on 27 March 2021 as the first referee in a World Cup qualifying, and what can we expect for the summer at the European Men’s Championship?
Referee: Stéphanie Frappart (France, first time 2020).
Assistant referee: Nelly Viennot (France, qualifier for the first time in 2000, main draw) for the first time in 2001
UEFA Cup and Europa League respectively:
Referee: Nicole Petignat (Switzerland) during qualifier (first time 2003) and Stephanie Frappart (France) during main draw (first time 2020)
Assistant referee: Nelly Viennot (France, qualifier for the first time in 2001, main draw) in 2003.
A steady increase since 2019
Nicole Petignat, Stéphanie Frappart and Nelly Viennot are the women who have set several milestones in European football. Of them, only Frappart is currently still active as a referee at the top level. And at 37, she is still a few years away from the age limit for referees. Enough time to set many more milestones.
Along with her, other female match officials have put their foot in the door of men’s football since 2019, as can easily be seen in the overview above.
What are the reasons for this? Greater public interest in promoting women in football – this also brings better publicity for the associations. Also better promotion of female referees, although there is still much, much room for improvement here, as a recent study on sexism against female referees shows.
It is a step towards equality, but there is still a long way to go before female referees no longer make history in men’s football. Because that means that it is normal.