Refereeing in general has been in the spotlight recently for all the wrong reasons. From refs blowing the whistle too early and others making blatant mistakes to the controversial video assistant referee (VAR) system.
Yes, the VAR is in there. Why? Simply because the VAR is operated by experienced match officials.
However, some great news emerged this week that a woman referee from Rwanda became the first to officiate at a men’s Afcon game.
On Tuesday, Salima Rhadia Mukansanga made history when she took charge of the group B match between Zimbabwe and Guinea in Yaounde in Cameroon.
Moroccan referee Bouchra Karboubi worked the VAR during the match.
It’s not Mukansanga’s first engagement in this tournament.
A fortnight ago, she was appointed as the fourth official for the Afcon group B match between Guinea and Malawi. This meant that she was the first woman to be appointed at any level for an official Afcon match.
She is not new to the international arena, though, having officiated at the Olympics, the Fifa Women’s World Cup, the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and the CAF Women’s Champions League.
The head of the CAF referees, Eddy Maillet, said it was an important moment in African football.
He added that it was due to CAF’s “clear commitment and investment to improve and advance the standard of refereeing in Africa”.
Maillet went on to say: “We are superproud of Salima because she has had to work exceptionally hard to be where she is today. We know that, as a woman, she has had to overcome serious obstacles to reach this level, and she deserves a lot of credit. He said:
I would like to echo these sentiments and wish her the very best, not only for the Afcon, but for her future in refereeing.
She is clearly dedicated to her profession and will no doubt go far as a match official.
Carine Atemzabong of Cameroon, Fatiha Jermoumi of Morocco, Mukansanga and Karboubi were also among 19 African referees chosen to officiate during next year’s Women’s World Cup.
Mukansanga and Karboubi will be part of a select group of officials set to perform in the middle, while Atemzabong and Jermoumi will perform assistant referee duties at the showpiece event.
Mukansanga must surely be an inspiration to all aspiring women match officials.
It’s great for her, it’s great for her country and it’s great for refereeing.
Please stay safe and well out there. This pandemic is not over yet. Protect yourselves and your families, and observe all medical and scientific advice. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
- Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol
- Check out my Monday Review Show at 9pm on facebook.com/hangingjudge