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Salima Mukansanga becomes Africa’s first female referee to officiate at the men’s FIFA World Cup

34-year-old Rwanda-born Salima Mukansanga has her name written in the history book yet again after she was named in the FIFA list of 36 referees to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Making her the first female referee from Africa to officiate at the men’s FIFA World Cup

Mukansanga who broke headlines earlier this year by becoming the first female referee to officiate at the 2022 men’s African Cup of Nations, has now been selected to officiate at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. She is among three female referees selected for the first time for a men’s FIFA World Cup alongside Japan’s Yamashita Yoshimi and Frence’s Stephanie Frappart.

The three referees made the final list of the 36 match referees announced by the World football governing body (FIFA) on Thursday, May 19.  

Speaking to BBC, the Rwandan record holder expressed her joy in achieving this milestone. She stated that becoming the first female and the first African to officiate at the men’s FIFA World Cup will open doors for other women in world football, especially in Africa. 

She added that when you’re the first to open doors, you are required to be at your best when carrying out your duties, as that will give others the courage to believe in their dreams and see that the opportunities are there and they can be reached. 

“It’s an honor and a privilege because it’s never happened before. It means you’re going to be the first one and open the door for other women, especially in Africa. You carry a lot on your shoulders and you need to carry it well, so others can see that the door is open and they can also go through.” Mukansanga told the BBC. 

At the start of her career, Mukansanga officiated men’s local amateur football matches and women’s national second-division matches in Rwanda. In 2012, She became a FIFA-registered international referee. Mukansanga was selected to officiate in both the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan. She was listed among the officials at the 2016 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and was the center referee in the final between Cameroon and Nigeria in Yaounde.