France's Ligue 1 appoints first female football referee

Stéphanie Frappart was the first woman to referee an official football match in the men’s Ligue 1 on Sunday, April 28th. Ligue 1 is France’s top-tier league, equivalent to the English Premier League.

Victoria Wystepek
Victoria Wystepek NewsMavens, Europe
France's Ligue 1 appoints first female football referee - NewsMavens
Stéphanie Frappart, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Stéphanie Frappart also made history in 2014 when she became the first female referee for a Ligue 2 game. She is the second woman in Europe to officiate a top-tier men’s football game, after Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus refereed a Bundesliga match in 2017. 

The French Football Federation (FFF) selected Frappart to “prepare her for World Cup conditions,”  when she will act as a referee at the Women’s World Cup later this year.

Some praise the decision, like the Law 5 football blog, which stated that “We hope that many other women will improve and develop in their countries, reaching the top. Good Luck!”

Others are cynical of the FFF’s underlying motives. Jonathan Ervine, professor of Bangor University, highlighted that the match that Frappart is set to referee between Amiens and Strasbourg normally would have garnered little attention. He also points out that the stadium is significantly smaller than the Women’s World Cup stadiums, which casts doubt on the FFF’s stated reason for appointing Frappart to officiate the match. 

It is unlikely that Frappart’s appointment will lead to more women refereeing men’s football games because no other women has officiated the Ligue 2 since Frappart did five years ago. 

Details from the story:

  • This year’s Women’s World Cup begins in France in June. This will be the second time Frappart will officiate matches at this event. 
  • Frappart’s appointment to be a main referee at the Amiens-Strasbourg game has received praise from feminists and football fans.
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