Salima Mukansanga, a Rwandan referee, became the first African woman to officiate a World Cup game when defending champions France defeated Australia 4-1 at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, on Tuesday, November 22.
The 34-year-old served as the fourth official whilst Victor Gomes, a South African, was the centre referee with line assistance coming from compatriot Zakhele Siwela and Souru Phatsoane from Lesotho. Also, Moroccan Adil Zourak served as Assistant Video Assistant Referee.
She is one of three female referees chosen for a men’s Fifa World Cup for the first time, along with French Stephanie Frappart and Japanese Yamashita Yoshimi.
After officiating the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January, the Rusizi-born referee had one more major tournament to call: the World Cup.
The game saw defending champions France begin their title defense with a convincing victory over Australia thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud who scored twice to surpass Thierry Henry as the team’s all-time leading scorer, Adrien Rabiot, and Kylian Mbappe.
Women referees have been selected to officiate at the FIFA men’s World Cup for the first time in the event’s history.