Stéphanie Frappart is making history as she becomes the first woman to referee a major UEFA final. The French national steps up to referee the Liverpool v Chelsea Super Cup final in Turkey today on 14 August 2019 and will be joined by two female assistant referees, Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O'Neal.
The appointment of Frappart is a welcome move towards equality among the sexes in elite sport, which is an issue we cannot forget extends far beyond athletes themselves. Prevailing sexism in sport has been blamed for female referees, commentators, coaches and managers being subjected to fiercer judgement, paid less than their male counterparts and overlooked for positions they may be equally – and at times better – qualified for.
Although criticism of decisions is part and parcel of the job, the Football Association (FA) admits that more full-time experience and training would assist female referees who are trying to break through and is tackling this head on by offering training camps to female referees. The aim is to increase the number of female officials from 1,500 to 3,000 by 2021 and for increased funding in the Women's Super League to allow for full-time female referees.
Frappart's credentials ultimately speak for themselves, as she earned her stripes refereeing Championnat National and Ligue 2 games before becoming the first woman to referee a Ligue 1 match earlier this year. For those of us less familiar with the French leagues, you will more likely recognise her as the referee in charge of the Women's World Cup final between USA v Netherlands that took place in July.
Our #WomenWinning campaign earlier this summer focussed on the challenges and opportunities for women in sport. This appointment is a welcome move by UEFA and hopefully a sign of further progress to come. Please click here to view articles and interviews from our Summer of sport: women winning campaign.