Stéphanie Frappart to become first ever female referee at men’s World Cup match – Screen Shot
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Stéphanie Frappart to become first ever female referee at men’s World Cup match

The high-profile French referee will be taking charge of the Costa Rica versus Germany game taking place on Thursday 1 December during Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The 38-year-old will be joined by the assistant referees Neuza Back of Brazil and Mexico’s Karen Díaz Medina for the crucial game, FIFA announced on Tuesday 29 November. Frappart will mark another milestone in her career at the Al Bayt Stadium, having previously refereed a men’s World Cup qualifier in March, a men’s Champions League game in 2020, the 2019 Uefa Super Cup final, and matches in Ligue 1.

Frappart featured as the fourth official during Mexico’s goalless draw with Poland in Group C. Two other female referees—Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga and Yamashita Yoshimi of Japan—were also included in FIFA’s pool of World Cup officials. Along with Back and Díaz Medina, US official Kathryn Nesbitt was also called up as the offside specialist in the video review team.

Before the tournament began, the high-profile football expert shared that she hoped the inclusion of female referees in Qatar would “make things happen” on a broader level. “It’s a strong sign from FIFA and the authorities to have women referees in that country,” she said.

Germany is currently in need of a win this Thursday to have any hope of not repeating its failure in Russia in 2018 and crashing out at the group stage. Football coach Hansi Flick’s squad is currently last in Group E following a surprising defeat to Japan in its opening game.

While a late equaliser from Niclas Füllkrug secured an invaluable point against Spain in its second match, die Mannschaft still has a lot to do in the final group stage game—with even a win not enough to guarantee qualification.

Even if the team does end up beating Costa Rica, the four-time world champions still have to hope Spain beats Japan. Let’s wish for Germany that history stays on its side—the country has won six of its eight World Cup matches against CONCACAF nations, while Costa Rica has won just one of its last 11 such games against European sides.

Football captains forced to ditch OneLove armbands at World Cup as FIFA imposes new sanctions

In an unprecedented and controversial move, FIFA has stated it will impose strict sporting sanctions against any football captains who wear the OneLove armband during the course of the Qatar World Cup 2022.

According to the BBC, the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland released a statement early this morning (21 November 2022) detailing the recent decision made by the global football organisation: “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.”

The joint associations continued: “We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented—we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the OneLove armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed—they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”

What is the OneLove armband?

The OneLove armband is the physical manifestation of an initiative created in the hopes of promoting inclusivity and support for the LGBTQIA+ community within football. A number of football captains, including England captain Harry Kane, had previously stated their intentions to sport the colourful armband during the tournament—which has been deemed the most controversial sporting event to date.

However, it now appears that Kane, alongside a number of other European captains, will no longer participate in the campaign in fear of being heavily fined or even booked (receiving a yellow card).

The World Cup, which officially kicked off on 20 November 2022, has already been highly criticised by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International for the poor working conditions of migrant labourers—many of whom died during the construction of the infrastructure needed to host the sporting event.

Qatari officials garnered further criticism after World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman told German TV broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality is “damage in the mind.”

How has the internet responded?

In response to the recent banning of the OneLove armband, many netizens took to Twitter to publicise their outrage and disappointment. One user made a dig against current FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s recent statements and simply posted: “Today I feel gay, and tomorrow I’m banning an armband that is worn to promote inclusion and send a message against discrimination of any kind.”

While sports journalist Jack Pitt-Brooke wrote: “One of the things that is so dispiriting about all this is that the OneLove armband felt like it was designed specifically so that it would be permitted. The blandness and non-specificity of it was the whole point. And they’ve still ultimately decided against wearing it.”

Later in the day, as England faced Iran on the pitch, a number of individuals pointed out the humiliating reality that, while so many nations chose not to wear the OneLove armband simply to avoid being booked, the Iranian team refused to sing their national anthem out of solidarity with the nationwide protests taking place back home after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police. They took action, despite knowing that they could face serious punishment or persecution when they return.