By Victor Kanayo
Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga has made history again by becoming the first female African referee at the men’s world cup.
The other two are Yamashita Yoshimi of Japan and Stephanie Frappart of France.
For the first time, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) listed three female referees among its 36 to officiate the men’s World Cup.
On Wednesday November 23, 2022, Mukansanga gallantly officiated during France versus Australia opening game as fourth referee.
Mukusanga has broken new ground before as a female referee.
She was the first female referee at the 2019 Women’s World Cup edition, and earlier this year, she became the first woman referee to officiate the African Cup of Nations as a centre referee.
For Mukansanga, officiating the men’s World Cup is “very exciting.”
“It’s a privilege for me. I never dreamed of going to the Men’s World Cup,” she told FIFA.com.
A nurse by profession, Mukusanga has been a FIFA referee since 2012, officiating international tournaments, including the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Born in Rusizi District in the Western Province of Rwanda, 34-year-old Mukansanga did not have an easy debut in refereeing.
The dress code for female referees has been a challenge Mukansanga experienced, especially early in her career, with some religious decrees contending women referees from wearing the standard uniform.
Regardless, she defied all odds starting in the national football space after being certified by FIFA in 2012 before she took up international match officiation roles in 2014 during the Afcon qualifier match between Zambia and Tanzania.
More assignments traced her the following year with the All-Africa Cup of Nations Games held in Brazzaville and the 2015 Women’s CECAFA held in Jinja, where she was a key match official.
However, she shot to fame in 2016 during the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay in 2018, where she officiated several matches, including Germany versus Canada.