Home Football Rwanda’s Mukansanga becomes first woman to ref at AFCON

Rwanda’s Mukansanga becomes first woman to ref at AFCON

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Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga will become the first woman to ever referee at the African Cup of Nations.

Mukansanga was elected to the FIFA International Referee list, making her eligible to officiate at the international level wearing a FIFA badge.

Her experience and reputation in the women’s game already make her a respected official, having officiated at the Women’s World Cup, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and CAF Women’s Champions League.

In addition to her role as a referee at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the 33-year-old also officiated at the women’s football championship in Japan, which was won by Canada.

The Rwandan referee will now oversee matches at one of men’s soccer’s most prestigious events.

Mukansanga is one of four women on the list of match officials who will work at the tournament, along with Carine Atemzabong from Cameroon, as well as Fatiha Jermoumi and Bouchra Karboubi from Morocco, though none of the other three will referee matches.

A local website in Rwanda reports that Makansanga wanted to become a professional basketball player as a teenager, but switched to refereeing 15 years ago. Since 2018, Makansanga has taken charge of numerous matches in Rwanda and has now landed one of the biggest jobs of her career.

Having a similar temperament to former Italian referee Pierluigi Collina, she has been compared to the legendary referee who has been named FIFA’s “Best Referee” for six consecutive years and is widely regarded as the best ever.

The Italian refereed the World Cup final between Brazil and Germany in 2002 – a game Brazil won 2-0.

Mukansanga is not the only female referee to recently be handed a job officiating in men’s football.

In Birmingham City’s match against Plymouth Argyle at St Andrews on Sunday, January 16, 2022, Rebecca Welch will be in charge of the refereeing. This will be the first time a woman has presided over an FA Cup third-round tie.

Welch became the first woman to referee an EFL match when she officiated Harrogate’s 2-0 loss to Port Vale in League Two last year.

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