SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 14 – When Stephanie Frappart takes charge of the UEFA Super Cup between Chelsea and Liverpool on Wednesday, it will not be the biggest game she has refereed this summer.
The French official will make history by becoming the first female to officiate in a major men’s European match on Wednesday.
But having also taken charge of the Women’s World Cup final in July and Ligue 1 matches in France since April, she says she will not be feeling any extra pressure.
“We train a lot of all the time, so we are not afraid because we are always ready for all the games,” the 35-year-old said.
Frappart admits her “life has changed” since she was appointed earlier this month as part of an all-female on-field referee team for the match between last season’s Champions League and Europa League winners.
She will line up alongside assistant referees Manuela Nicolosi of Italy and Michelle O’Neill from the Republic of Ireland, who also joined her at the World Cup.
Turkish male referee Cuneyt Cakir will be the fourth official in his home city of Istanbul.
“I’m now popular all over the world,” Frappart added. “But I was also appointed in Ligue 1, so I know the feelings and emotions and how to manage them and how to train for [the occasion].
“This is not my first appointment.”
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said of Frappart’s appointment: “I’m very pleased to be part of this moment in history, which is very much due.”
But female officials are becoming more common in men’s football with Bibiana Steinhaus also taking charge of matches in Germany’s Bundesliga.
Sian Massey-Ellis is a regular assistant referee in the Premier League; however, there are no female referees in the Premier League or the Football League (EFL).
Rebecca Welch, 35, is the top female referee in the country, taking charge of matches in the National League – the division below the EFL – as well as working a 30-hour week in the NHS – and like many female officials also takes charge of women’s matches.
There are about 1,500 female referees in England, with the Football Association hoping to double that number by 2021.
Ireland’s O’Neill says: “It’s pretty nice to inspire young girls, to open up the pathways for kids coming up. That’s pretty special.
“But this is not our first time on the big stage. I am one of the first Irish officials in a World Cup final, man or woman, so I already know how to react to all the emotions and keep focus on the task on hand, which is the two teams on Wednesday.”
Uefa’s chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti added: “I hope she will inspire thousands and thousands of young female referees around the world.
“The reason they were chosen is, they are good.”
Frappart was greeted by banners welcoming her to the stadium when she took charge of her first game in France.
However, the reaction to Massey-Ellis first joining the Premier League in the 2010-11 season was less charitable.
But Cakir, who has refereed Champions League and World Cup matches, says female officials are appointed on merit.
“When we go to field of play, we are all called referees,” the Turkish official said. “When we go onto field there is no gender.
“Two weeks ago in Zagreb, we did the same preparation, the same fitness tests, the same laws of the game, the same training sessions, there is no difference.
“My honest feeling is they are really brave, they have courage, they don’t hesitate to give unpopular decisions. You will see on Wednesday, believe me.”