Earlier this year, Salima made history as the first female referee at the African Cup of Nations tournament and now Salima Mukansanga, the 34-year-old international football referee from Rwanda, had made history in Qatar by becoming the first African woman to officiate a Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup match.
According to Republic World, among the 36 FIFA officials, Salima was the fourth official during the France vs. Australia match. Mukansanga officiated the Zimbabwe vs Guinea match in AFCON prior to refereeing the FIFA World Cup 2022. In the AFCON Cup Nation’s 65-year history, Mukansanga became the first female referee to officiate a match.
BBC Sport Africa reported that this year was the first time women were selected to referee at the men’s World Cup in 92 years of the competition.
In a recent interview, Mukansanga shared her journey as a referee and how honored she was to be selected, despite facing much rejection during the early days.
“IT’S AN HONOUR AND A PRIVILEGE BECAUSE IT’S NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE [SIC],” MUKANSANGA TOLD BBC.
“It means you’re going to be the first one and going to open the door for other women, especially in Africa,” she added.
“I DIDN’T KNOW THERE IS A LOT TO DO – LAWS TO FOLLOW, A MENTALITY TO FOLLOW, PROFESSIONALISM INSIDE – BUT I STARTED TO LEARN STEP-BY-STEP,” MUKANSANGA SAID.
“It was very difficult. When you are reading the laws of the game, it’s easy to understand but inside the field of play, it needs some time to have a smell for the job.”
Mukansanga is one of the first six pioneering women to officiate in a men’s global tournament, alongside Stephanie Frappart, Yoshimi Yamashita, and three other assistant referees.
“We are going to work together for the success of women. If a woman is supporting another woman, of course, you are going to see fruits. There are barriers, obstacles, and challenges. There is nothing to do about them than for us to fight with a strong mentality, commitment and full engagement – then we will overcome,” Salima said.
Mukansanga also officiated the Olympic games in Tokyo.