Hanging Judge: Huge leap forward for women’s refereeing

Stéphanie Frappart and her team were on top of their game in Istanbul on Wednesday night. Picture: Supplied/AP
Stéphanie Frappart and her team were on top of their game in Istanbul on Wednesday night. Picture: Supplied/AP

For many years, football has been the exclusive domain of men – they played it, they coached it and they controlled it.

In recent times, there has been a seismic shift in that women are coming to the fore in the planning and organising of the game.

Only last month, we had a successful Women’s World Cup officiated entirely by woman referees and assistant referees.

I have to admit that I enjoy watching women play because there’s very little, if any, of the usual shenanigans and cheating endemic in the men’s game.

Men have also refereed women’s games, which, to me, was a tragedy because some of the women, as far as I’m concerned, outshone the men when it came to performances on the field of play.

Now, for the first time, a woman referee has taken charge of a major European final.

The occasion was the European Super Cup match between Liverpool and Chelsea, the winners of the 2018/19 Champions League and Europa League, respectively.

Stéphanie Frappart from France made history when she blew the whistle to start this eagerly awaited game in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday night.

She was ably assisted by two woman assistants and a fourth official. I’m very proud that one of the assistants was from my home country – Ireland.

She showed her mettle with a caution, a hotly disputed incident by the recipient César Azpilicueta of Chelsea. Replays showed that it was a push in the back and the yellow card was justified. The fact that he was appealing what was a definite foul shows how low some players will go to gain an advantage for their team – right or wrong doesn’t even come into the equation.

In general, I thought the officials did well on the night and allowed the game to flow without too many unnecessary stoppages.

It’s important to also remember that these women are no slouches when it comes to officiating.

Last month, they were in charge of the Women’s World Cup final, during which the USA beat the Netherlands. It was on that performance that they were awarded this honour.

It’s richly deserved. They are regarded, and rightly so, as the best woman’s refereeing team on the planet and they showed us why on Wednesday. They acquitted themselves very well and it has to be said that they were much better than some of their male counterparts.

Is this the start of something new? Will more women be put in charge of the men’s league and cup games? I hope so.

The men have become too complacent, particularly in the Premier League in England, and this might be the start of some real competition for major games.

Right, now allow me to have a rant. I’ve earned it, so here goes. Firstly, I’ll rant at players who attempted to intimidate Frappart with their usual carry-on, whingeing and moaning when things didn’t go their way.

She was not fazed and kept her cool. I have to say it’s a great day for woman refs and I hope they go from strength to strength, and that there’ll be more big games coming down the line.

Secondly, I’ll rant at the commentators. They are the bane of my life and they give me pain where the sun doesn’t shine. Never mind the silly statements they come up with regarding the laws of the game.

These officials made excellent calls on at least a couple of the crucial offside decisions, including the penalty awarded to Chelsea.

The commentators then went on to try and justify their silliness by saying that the interpretation in the Premier League and Uefa games was different. Here’s my point: If they know that, why are they being so flippant?

I guess it’s good for broadcast ratings. 

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