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Women’s referees breaking new ground as FIFA Women’s World Cup approaches

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The professionalism of women’s refereeing is reaching unparalleled levels, according to Kari Seitz, FIFA Head of Refereeing, Women, a fact that bodes well for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023, which starts in just a couple of months.

Speaking at the Making Trade Score for Women! event held at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Seitz believes the global nature of the 33 referees, 55 assistant referees and 19 video match officials who have been selected to oversee the tournament, will continue to help to grow the popularity of women refereeing across the world.

 “We are seeing countries represented through their refereeing teams, who otherwise would not have been taken part in the Women’s World Cup.,” said the former American official who officiated at four FIFA Women’s World Cups between 1999 and 2011.

 “We will have referees at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from Mali, from Togo, from Kyrgyzstan, from Palestine, who have been selected based on their qualities.

While their teams have not qualified, their referees have, and so offering even more opportunities for women in football.”

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The professionalisation of women’s refereeing has played a large factor in the increase ability of women’s referees to officiate at the highest level, according to Seitz.

 Some top officials no longer need to have a second job and the ability to concentrate on their profession is paying dividends, which was reflected at last year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

By officiating the group-stage match between Costa Rica and Germany, Stéphanie Frappart, Karen Diaz and Neuza Back made history as they were the first female match officials to take charge of a game at the FIFA World Cup finals.

“Let’s see, the women at the men’s [FIFA] World Cup, as referees. This is a competition that in [its] 92-year history, had no women referees, and now we had six across the globe at the [right] quality to officiate at the tournament,” Seitz mentioned.

“This is a big statement and a big change in what’s possible for women in football. We talk about women’s football, and we talk about women in football, so that change is very positive. We’ve had so many firsts in just the last few years, you know.”

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As the women’s game continues to develop, Seitz is adamant that women’s refereeing needs to continue to develop at a similar pace as the players deserve to have the best possible officiating standards.

Seitz is particularly proud of the number of “firsts being achieved” within recent years, which has propelled female referees and their profession into the global spotlight.

 “As of 2017, we only had women at three international men’s competitions, and now women referees have officiated in over 25 Men’s International Competitions – for example, we are talking about the men’s champions league[s] in both Europe, Asia, and North and Central America.

We’re talking about the [CONMEBOL] Libertadores, so South America,” said Seitz.

“We’re talking about in Africa, and in the African Cup of Nations for men, that we’ve had women referees. [It’s] incredible [to see] this kind of momentum [in just a few years].

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

CAF Executive Committee to meet on Friday

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CAF President Motsepe Fails To Confirm Dates For 2025 AFCON -

Plunged with myriad of issues especially concerning regular fixtures of the Africa Cup of Nations 2025 as well as the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 2024 both of which are to be held in Morocco, the  Confédération Africaine de Football CAF Executive Committee  will hold a virtual meeting on Friday.

It is expected that the congested fixtures occasioned by the women’s football event of the Paris 2024 Olympics as well as the enlarged FIFA Club World Cup 2025 will be discussed.

Till now,neither hosts nor period has been allocated for the Women’s Club Champions League which is supposed to be an annual event.

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Governing Bodies

Samuel Eto’o apologises and reinstates Cameroon coach Brys

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Former Cameroonian star forward and now football federation president Samuel Eto’o apologised Thursday to national team coach Marc Brys, with whom he had been involved in a heated exchange this week.

The ex-Barcelona striker also confirmed Brys would remain in his position after it was announced the Belgian was to be replaced as head coach of Cameroon on Wednesday.

“I apologise because during our first unfortunate meeting, there was a lot of emotion… but the Cameroonian people are more important than us, and it is for them that we must work,” said Eto’o at a press conference.

Eto’o was referring to an incident captured on video during his first meeting with Brys, which was widely shared on social media Tuesday.

The pair were seen to engage in a heated argument, before Brys left abruptly.

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“Your mission is not an easy one, despite your qualities and experience, but you should know that you will have our support,” added the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner.

Brys was appointed to the role in April by Cameroon’s sport ministry, much to the astonishment of the country’s football federation (Fecafoot) and its president Eto’o wrote to the ministry to denounce its “illegal” appointment of the 62-year-old.

Fecafoot said it regretted not being involved “closely, nor remotely” in the selection process for the new coach and his staff.

Belgian Brys will now oversee Cameroon’s next two crucial matches in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, against Cape Verde on June 8 and Angola three days later.

-AFP

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Governing Bodies

Footballers warn FIFA of looming strike

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FIFA Completely Opposed To 'blue Cards' -

Players have warned world soccer’s governing body FIFA that they are ready to go on strike over concerns the playing calendar is overloaded, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said.

Maheta Molango, who has been calling for change since February, believes players have reached a breaking point. He says football’s packed schedule endangers players’ health and diminishes the quality of the sport.

“I can tell you a situation not 10 days ago where I went into a dressing room that was directly affected and said: ‘I’m happy to be here and bark a bit, but ultimately it’s up to you. How far do you want to go?” Molango told the BBC.

“Some of them said: ‘I’m not having it, we might as well go on strike. Some said: ‘What’s the point? Yes, I’m a millionaire, but I don’t even have time to spend the money’.

Demands on players have increased in recent years, as tournaments expanded and new competitions emerged, with players and managers criticising that the calendar demanded too many matches.

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“It was not even the union that said it, it was Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. We have reached a point where we cannot rule out any action,” Molango said.

Global players’ union FIFPRO, along with the PFA and the World Leagues Association (WLA), have threatened to take legal action if FIFA continues in this direction.

In a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and General Secretary Mattias Grafstrom, they expressed their concerns over the expansion of the new 32-team Club World Cup.

In response, FIFA denied their claims it had taken unilateral decisions to favour its competitions in the international calendar and would not consider rescheduling the tournament.

“Some of the changes in England with the domestic calendar have been forced by what FIFA and UEFA have done. What has happened is further confirmation that something needs to be done,” Molango said

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“We will always try to exhaust all diplomatic avenues, we have sent a letter, we have received a reply, but unfortunately time is against us. Sometimes between grown-up people, despite trying very hard to find solutions you need a third party to decide, maybe an arbitrator or a tribunal,” he said.

-Reuters

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