Rwandan referee Salma Mukansanga made history in Qatar as she became the first African woman to officiate a men’s World Cup match when defending champions France beat Australia 4-1 in Group D opener on Tuesday, November 22, at Al Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, in Qatar.
Mukansaga, 34, was the fourth referee of the game which was handled by South Africa’s Victor Gomes, the center referee, assisted by fellow countrymen Zakhele Siwela and Lesothian Souru Phatsoane.
It’s an achievement that she never dreamed of until she found herself on the final list of the 36 match referees that world football governing body (FIFA) announced to officiate the Qatar World Cup 2022 back in May.
She is among three female referees selected for the first time for a men’s FIFA World Cup alongside Japanese Yamashita Yoshimi and French Stephanie Frappart.
The World Cup was her remaining refereeing challenge for the Rusizi-born referee, having officiated the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January.
Mukansanga will be delighted to have officiated a match that involves defending champions France as they started their title defense with a comfortable victory over Australia through goals from Adrien Rabiot, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud who scored a brace to overtake Thierry Henry as the Bleus’ all-time top scorer.
Craig Godwin’s early strike was not enough for his Australian side to deal with the French pace throughout 90 minutes.