Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda will make history as the first woman to ever referee at the African Cup of Nations, when Guinea take on Malawi later today, at 4pm (Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam, Cameroon).
Mukansanga is on the FIFA International Referees List, which qualifies her to officiate at the international level and allows her to wear a FIFA insignia on her uniform.
The 33-year-old has already officiated at the Women’s World Cup, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, and the CAF Women’s Champions League, and is a well-respected official in the women’s game.
Mukansanga also worked as a referee in the women’s football tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan, which Canada unexpectedly won.
Now, the Rwandan referee will be in control of matches at one of the world’s most prestigious men’s football events.
Mukansanga is one of four women on the list of 63 match officials that would preside at the event, provided by CAF.
Carine Atemzabong of Cameroon, as well as Fatiha Jermoumi and Bouchra Karboubi of Morocco, are among the others, however none of them will be refereeing matches.
Makansanga intended to be a professional basketball player as a youth, but decided to become a referee 15 years ago, according to local Rwandan websites.
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She has been in charge of a number of matches in Rwanda since 2018, and she has finally landed her biggest assignment yet.Her demeanour has been compared to that of former Italian referee Pierluigi Collina.
Collina has won FIFA’s ‘Best Referee of the Year’ award six times in a row and is largely regarded as the best football referee of all time. The Italian officiated the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany, which Brazil won 2-0.
Mukansanga isn’t the only female referee who has recently been given the opportunity to work in men’s football.
Birmingham City will face Plymouth Argyle at St Andrews this Saturday, and Rebecca Welch will be in charge.This will be the first time a woman has officiated a third-round match in the FA Cup for men.
Welch also made history as the first female referee in the EFL when she refereed Harrogate’s 2-0 defeat to Port Vale in League Two last season.
Source: Sport Agencies