Trailblazing female referee Stephanie Frappart will take charge of tonight’s UEFA Super Cup clash after ending her playing career to pursue her love for the laws of the game.
The blockbuster match in Istanbul will be a historic night with Premier League rivals Liverpool and Chelsea making up the first ever all-English Super Cup final.
But the game will also be a landmark event as it will see the first woman officiate the traditional curtain raiser for European competitions.
Frappart, who took charge of the Women’s World Cup final this summer, is regarded as the best female referee on the planet.
In April, the 35-year-old Frenchwoman became the first female to take charge of a Ligue 1 match when she oversaw the goalless draw between Amiens and Strasbourg.
Now Frappart is breaking new ground for women’s inclusion in top-level football as she’ll run the rule over Liverpool vs Chelsea in Turkey, a game that will be live on talkSPORT.
Who is Stephanie Frappart?
Frappart, from Herblay-sur-Seine just north of Paris, picked up the whistle full-time in 2001 after deciding against pursuing a playing career.
She told L’Express: “I played football at home in the Val d’Oise, then around 13 years old became interested in the laws of the game.
“I quickly started refereeing games and around 18 years old I had to choose between football and refereeing.”
On her aspirations moving forward, she added: “I have already climbed a few steps.
“The next step for me is to integrate well in Ligue 1. It’s not easy, we are challenged every game.
“[But] it is a real pleasure to show that it is possible and to see young girls who will follow the same path.
“I’m seen on TV, young girls think it’s possible. Before, we only saw male referees. I hope it will inspire vocations.”
For the Super Cup, Frappart will be joined by the two female assistant referees who she worked with in the Women’s World Cup final – Manuela Nicolosi of Italy and Michelle O’Neill of the Republic of Ireland.
Ireland’s O’Neill says: “It’s pretty nice to inspire young girls, to open up the pathways for kids coming up. That’s pretty special.
“But this is not our first time on the big stage. I am one of the first Irish officials in a World Cup final, man or woman, so I already know how to react to all the emotions and keep focus on the task on hand, which is the two teams on Wednesday.”
There will then be an all-male supporting cast, with Turkey’s Cuneyt Cakir acting as fourth official and Frenchman Clement Turpin leading the VAR unit.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “As an organisation, we place the utmost importance on the development of women’s football in all areas.
“I hope the skill and devotion that Stephanie has shown throughout her career to reach this level will provide inspiration to millions of girls and women around Europe and show them there should be no barriers in order to reach one’s dream.”
UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti insisted Frappart ‘fully deserves’ the opportunity.
He said: “Stephanie has proved over a number of years that she is one of the best female referees, not just in Europe but across the world.
“She has the ability to officiate on the biggest stage, as she proved at this year’s Women’s World Cup final.
“I hope she will inspire thousands and thousands of young female referees around the world.
“The reason they were chosen is, they are good.”