Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga has made history as the first female African referee to officiate at the ongoing men’s world cup.
For the first time, Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA, listed three females among 36 referees ahead of the start of the 2022 men's World Cup in Qatar. One of them is Salima Mukansanga. The other two are Yamashita Yoshimi from Japan and Stephanie Frappart from France.
Aside from this historic feat, Salima was also the first female referee at the Women’s World Cup 2019 edition, and earlier this year, she became the first woman referee to officiate the African Cup of Nations as a center referee.
Thirty four-year-old Salima Mukansanga was born in Rusizi District in the Western Province of Rwanda. She is a nurse by profession but has a love for football. Salima has been a FIFA referee since 2012, officiating international tournaments, including the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Salima recounted that the journey to her refereeing career has not been easy. According to her, she got into refereeing training in 2007 together with four ladies in a camp with over 40 men. She was the only girl to continue with the training. “It is a difficult thing because there were times when I was feeling discouraged,” she explained.
Salima Mukansanga was certified by FIFA in 2012. She started in the national football space before she took up international match officiation roles in 2014 during the AFCON qualifier match between Zambia and Tanzania.
Salima rose to fame in 2016 during the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay in 2018, where she officiated several matches, including Germany versus Canada. Before that, she had taken up roles in 2015 with the All-Africa Cup of Nations Games held in Brazzaville and the 2015 Women’s CECAFA held in Jinja, where she was a key match official.
Salima hopes to inspire women around the world, especially in Africa. "We are going to work together for the success of women. If a woman is supporting another woman, of course, you are going to see fruits. There are barriers, obstacles, and challenges. There is nothing to do about them than for us to fight with a strong mentality, commitment, and full engagement - then we will overcome."- Salima Mukansanga.
Information from https://www.republicworld.com/sports-news/football-news/meet-salima-mukansanga-the-first-african-female-referee-to-officiate-in-a-fifa-world-cup-articleshow.html, https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/female-officials-qatar-world-cup-28564135 was used in this story