Updated: Jul 19
Referee Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan agrees with Pelé or whoever it was who coined the phrase "beautiful game" for football decades ago.
FIFA has chosen Yamashita as one of three female referees for the men's World Cup in Qatar, which begins on November 21. For the first time, a woman will be in command of the biggest game in sports.
Let the game shine, as it should, is how she sees her role in the process
In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday in Tokyo, she stated that "one of the primary goals as a referee is to bring out the appeal of football." "I shall act appropriately at that time to further that goal and I will try my best to do so. So I will do it if I need to talk to the guys. I will display a card if required to do so. Instead of exercising control, I'm considering what to do to highlight football's appeal.
The other ladies chosen are Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Stephanie Frappart of France. There are a total of 36 referees. In addition, FIFA picked three female assistant referees from a pool of 69 candidates: Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico, and Neuza Back from Brazil.
The three of them will probably oversee the games, but it's not a given. Additionally, they would serve as "fourth referees" on the sidelines. They cannot, however, be utilized as helpers.
Massimo Busacca, FIFA's director of officiating, said in a statement that "each match official will be carefully watched in the coming months with a final assessment on technical, physical, and medical elements to be made shortly before the World Cup."
The choice of Yamashita draws attention to Japan's dismal performance in international studies of gender equality and on most indicators of equal pay for women.
According to research conducted by the U.S. Congressional Research Service and released a few months ago, only 14.3% of the seats in the national legislature of Japan are held by women, placing it 152nd out of 190 nations. In a different survey on the gender wage gap, Japan came in at number 120 out of 156 nations.
Yamashita declared, "I would be extremely glad if women could have an active role in sports in this way, and if sports, particularly football, could lead this. "Female engagement in football in Japan still has a long way to go, so it would be great if this could relate to the development of female participation in other ways, not just in football or in sports," said one participant.
In Japan, women's football has taken the lead. Japanese women have regularly been among the top teams in the game, having won the women's World Cup in 2011 and finishing in second place in 2015.
On Monday, just outside of Tokyo, Yamashita exercised while sweltering in temperatures that reached 35 C. (95 F). She chuckled when it was explained that games in Qatar, which is on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, will be much colder because they will be held in air-conditioned stadiums during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Yamashita seems unperturbed by the obvious pressure during the interview. She has officiated matches in both the Asian version of the men's Champions League and the men's J League in Japan. She also managed matches in the Tokyo Olympics the previous year.
She acknowledged that she felt under a lot of strain and that she bore a lot of responsibility. However, I am quite delighted to accept this responsibility and pressure, therefore I make an effort to view it positively.
She talked about how exciting it was to leave the waiting area right before a game.
"I suppose it makes me feel better at the time. That's when I feel like I switch gears the most, she remarked.
She claimed that speed was the primary distinction between men's and women's competitions. But not only that certain men might run faster.
It's the pace, not only the speed of the players, but she also continued. Not the speed of the ball. Just the speed of the game. It requires me to act more quickly and make decisions more quickly.
The majority of the conversation was held in Japanese, however, Yamashita stated that when speaking with players in Qatar, she would utilize English and "facial motions, body signals."
She switched to English and continued, "Usually when I give a card, I say nothing." "However, whenever I issue a warning, all I say is that I'm not pleased. They are aware.