For the first time in the history of the round leather game, the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA named three women on the list of 36 referees to officiate at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Yesterday, Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga made history as she became the first-ever African woman to officiate in the prestigious men’s tournament.
Salima who had become the first female to referee in the men’s African Cup of Nations was the fourth official during France vs Australia World Cup match.
The 34-year-old had wanted to become a professional basketball player but was told she was too young to join the National U-17 basketball squad. After her secondary education, she then tried to register with the Rwanda Football Federation in an attempt to join a referee course but was again denied for being too young.
She would later be allowed to take up a course with them after learning the laws of football herself in her own time. At the start of her career, Mukansanga officiated men’s local amateur football matches and women’s national second-division matches in Rwanda
Salima got listed as an international referee for FIFA in 2012. She was an official at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. In 2022, Mukansanga became the first woman to referee at the African Cup of Nations, leading an all-woman officiating team of Fatiha Jermoumi (Morocco), Carine Atemzabong (Cameroon), and Bouchra Karboubi (Morocco) as the VAR. She has officiated at the Olympics, FIFA Women’s World Cup, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, and CAF Women’s Champions League. In 2022 she was one of the three women referees selected to officiate at the FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Qatar. Mukansanga became the first female African to officiate at the men’s top football event.