France’s Stephanie Frappart had no concerns about the scrutiny she was to face in yesterday’s UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool and Chelsea, when she was to become the first woman to referee a major men’s match in European competition.
“I don’t think so. We have to prove physically, technically and tactically that we are the same as the men. I’m not afraid about that. Nothing changes for me,” Frappart said on the eve of the match in Istanbul between winners of last season’s UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
Frappart, 35, has already been a trailblazer for female referees.
Earlier this year she became the first woman to take charge of a match in Ligue 1 in her home country. She has since been promoted to the French top flight’s pool of referees on a permanent basis.
“Of course, my life has changed because I am more popular now all over the world,” Frappart said, insisting that refereeing a men’s match is the same for her. “I think there is not a lot of difference, because football is the same.”
Along with her assistants, compatriot Manuela Nicolosi and Ireland’s Michelle O’Neill, Frappart also took charge of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final between the US and the Netherlands last month.
Nicolosi and O’Neill were to assist Frappart again in Istanbul.
UEFA head of refereeing Roberto Rosetti said that he came up with the idea of appointing Frappart for such a high-profile men’s fixture after watching her at the Women’s World Cup.
“I hope she will inspire thousands of younger women referees all over the world,” he said, a sentiment shared by Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.
“It’s great news, I’m very pleased to be a part of this moment in history, which is very much due,” Lampard said. “I think we were very slow everywhere on this and now we are trying to make strides. There is still a long way to go, but in terms of [yesterday’s match] it is a huge moment.”
Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp added: “I am happy that we can be part of a historic moment. It’s a very smart decision to have a woman referee a very, very important game.”