Stéphanie Frappart, step by step to the heights of arbitration

He was there, at the Stade de Lusail on the outskirts of Doha, for the World Cup final on 18 December. But in the stands, invited to Emmanuel Macron’s delegation for this legendary Argentina-France. However, French referee Stéphanie Frappart could have been on the pitch that day. And so he climbs a new step in the history of football.

Until December 12, Stéphanie Frappart could in fact aspire to have control of the final. The first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match, 92 years after the competition’s inception, she saw that newfound dream fade when the Blues beat England in the quarter-final on 10. Two days later, the ax falls : As their country is part of the final squad, Stéphanie Frappart and Clément Turpin, the other French referee at the World Cup, have to go home.

The latest historic conquest of this sporting pioneer therefore remains Costa Rica – Germany on December 1st on the grass of the Al Bayt stadium. His calm and controlled performance was welcomed after this tense match, during which the Mannschaft failed to secure qualification for the round of 16 despite a 4-2 victory. from the whole world.

Read also: At the Concorde, the Blues fans left much less sad than they arrived

A regular at first

Stéphanie Frappart then returned to Qatar on the day of Argentina’s consecration, in the impressive French delegation alongside first lady Brigitte Macron, Olympic judo champions Teddy Riner and boxing Brahim Asloum, legend Alain Giresse and a few other luminaries of the hexagon. A sign that Stéphanie Frappart has become a leading personality in just a few weeks. For the final on the lawn we will have to wait again, at least four years, hoping that the Azzurri will have less success…

But the goal is far from unrealistic, given that Stéphanie Frappart is used to playing scout. An example: 2019 will have been full of great firsts for her and for women’s refereeing. Just over a month after refereeing the Women’s World Cup final in France in July, this trailblazer whistled for the Men’s European Super Cup (the match between the Champions League winners and the Europa League winners) in August. “A novelty for a woman. And that before… In the annals of the European Cups there is only a trace of a single female referee, the Swiss Nicole Petignat, who had refereed at a more modest level,” she noted at the time The world. In June 2019, Stéphanie Frappart had already made refereeing history by becoming the first woman to officiate a men’s match in French Ligue 1.

Read also: In Paris, shipwrecked footballers and Argentines in fusion

Since then, it’s the sequence. Stéphanie Frappart became the first to referee a men’s Champions League, the first to officiate a men’s European match, the first to referee a men’s Coupe de France final. Firsts that are almost more impressive from a media point of view than sporting, she says in a podcast of the French Football Federation. At each stage, attention has actually increased one notch around this arbitration phenomenon. Up to Costa Rica – Germany, which was talked about on five continents.

Considerable pressure that the Frenchwoman has learned to handle. What about her? Stéphanie Frappart continues to work alongside the referee, to have something to hold on to, the pressure of the error is so strong that it threatens mental health. You are responsible for the development of activities within the Federation of Labor of Sport and Gymnastics, a large group of associations of the French Communist Party. “It allows you to take the pressure off, to get back to normal life.” The best judges are those who she believes strike this kind of balance.

An inexhaustible calm

Paris Saint-Germain manager Christophe Galtier, then manager of Lille, praised his “diplomacy” in 2019. “He has a small voice but he has charisma,” says midfielder Pierre Bouby, who told him he has flanked in Ligue 2. the referees, players and coaches who spoke about Stéphanie Frappart agree: she is one of those referees whose authority is magically imposed, thanks, among other things, to an infallible calm. And this, since his first cards as a teenager, according to the president of the Val-d’Oise referee commission who validated his exam in 1996.

Born on 14 December 1983 in the Parisian suburbs, Stéphanie Frappart, like many referees, started playing football from the age of 10. She is number 10, she has an excellent level but she also quickly approached refereeing, from the age of 13, “to learn the rules”. “I fell in love in no time,” she recalls. After express training, surrounded by boys, she soon found herself on the field refereeing the juniors and she put herself on the line, even if it wasn’t easy “with parents screaming all around”. She also recalls that when, as a child, she began to play one game after another, her mother accompanied her everywhere to, on the sidelines, put back in their place the rude spectators who went too far, “those who passed to an unsustainable level. Behaviors, often sexist, that have accompanied her throughout her ascent, especially at the beginning of her.

Then, with his studies starting, at 19, you have to choose between refereeing on Saturday and playing on Sunday. Stéphanie Frappart chooses arbitration. She was, however, at the gates of the French team. Her motivation: refereeing at a professional level. At the time, women’s football offered few opportunities, she says. Stéphanie Frappart then continues the federation competitions and levels up to Ligue 1. “When I set myself a goal or embark on a path, I do everything to get there.”

Repeated often, Stéphanie Frappart hopes that her example can arouse vocations. “I know I’m playing a role.” Even outside of football, to “let some girl through” who doubts her own potential. But her engine, she always says, is still her passion for football.


1983 Born in the suburbs of Paris.

1996 Trained in arbitration at age 13.

2014 First female central referee of a French Ligue 2 match.

2019 First woman to referee a French Ligue 1 match.

2022 First woman to referee a men’s World Cup match.

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