Female World Cup referees believe they “deserve” to be in Qatar 2022 – and insist they are being treated in the same way as their male counterparts.
Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga, France’s Stéphanie Frappart and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita are all vying to become the first women to captain a men’s World Cup game.
They are part of the 36-strong refereeing team which held a public exercise in Doha today.
Mukansanga said: “It is a privilege for all of us but we deserve to be here.
“There’s no sex in football. A decision is a decision that has to be made and being a woman doesn’t matter. It’s about performance.
“Also, having women be part of a men’s World Cup is a really big deal.
“People need to understand this: Opening doors to women and giving them opportunities is just another way of making women feel ready and able to compete and be successful.
“Women are very powerful when given the opportunity.”
Asked if she had been told that some sports potentially involving Muslim nations could be off-limits, she said: “Whatever sport I am nominated for, I will do it.
“I will do it from the bottom of my heart because I want to be here and deserve to be here. I don’t care what the game is.”
Most read on World Cup 2022
American assistant referee Catherine Nesbitt agreed that the women were part of a unified team of officials.
He said: We are all in the same match for training and we have been provided with the same clothes.
“We are trying to respect the culture here but all of us have been invited here as equal referees.
“So we all have earned the status to be here and we feel like that, a team.
“There is immense respect and we want to support each other on and off the field as a team of referees.”