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Salima Mukansanga Becomes First African Female Referee At 2022 Men’s World Cup

Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda has become the first female African referee at the men’s World Cup, joining two other women, Yamashita Yoshimi of Japan and Stephanie Frappart of France.

FIFA listed three female referees among its 36 officials to officiate the men’s World Cup for the first time.

Mukusanga has previously made history as a female referee. She was the first female referee at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and she was the first woman referee to officiate the African Cup of Nations as a centre referee earlier this year.

In a press statement during the unveiling of the female referees, FIFA’s chief referee, Pierluigi Collina, justified FIFA’s decision to incorporate female officials, noting, “They are here not because they are women but because they are FIFA selected match officials.”

However, for Salima Mukansanga, officiating the men’s World Cup is “very exciting, and it’s a privilege for me. I never dreamed of going to the Men’s World Cup,” she told FIFA.com.

A nurse by profession, Mukusanga has been a FIFA referee since 2012, officiating international tournaments, including the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Born in Rusizi District in the Western Province of Rwanda, 34-year-old Mukansanga did not have an easy debut in refereeing.

In an interview with bird story agency in January 2022 during the Africa Cup of Nations, Mukansanga explained how she got into refereeing, training in 2007 alongside four ladies in a camp with over 40 men.

“No other girl continued. It is a difficult thing because there were times when I was feeling discouraged,” she explained.

The dress code for female referees has been a challenge Mukansanga experienced, especially early in her career, with some religious decrees contending women referees from wearing the standard uniform.

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Regardless, she defied all odds starting in the national football space after being certified by FIFA in 2012 before she took up international match officiation roles in 2014 during the Afcon qualifier match between Zambia and Tanzania.

More assignments traced her the following year with the All-Africa Cup of Nations Games held in Brazzaville and the 2015 Women’s CECAFA held in Jinja, where she was a key match official.

However, she shot to fame in 2016 during the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay in 2018, where she officiated several matches, including Germany versus Canada.

Salima Mukansanga hopes to be an inspiration to girls around the world, especially in Africa:

“I want young girls to look at me and follow me because I, too am here now because I took advice from people,” she said. – bird story agency

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