Top 5 Best Female Football Referees in the World

Find out more about the top five best female referees in the history of football who have officiated some of the most exciting and nerve-wrecking games in the world of football. 

Over the past few decades, football as a sport has transitioned towards gender equality and has uplifted the integrity of the game with an active inclusion of women in all spheres. Although the sport of football has been predominantly dominated by men since its inception, the past few decades have witnessed active participation from women, like prominent football players, as well as the best female referees. 

The leading governing bodies of football from around the world have laid their focus on gender inclusion in the game of football, providing women athletes and officiating personnel with a plethora of glitzy career opportunities. Although in the initial phases of women’s inclusion in football’s officiating arena was highly underrated, the prominent female referees, including Kate Jacewicz, Maria Rebello, Casey Reibelt, Yoshimi Yamashita and many others proved their dominance on the field and, as a consequence of their unwavering passion, courage and skill set, currently women referees are successfully officiating the high-profile football tournaments, such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup and domestic leagues. 

Let’s have a look at the top five best female referees in the history of football

1. Stephanie Frappart

Top 5 Best Female Referees in the History of Football
Stephanie Frappart (Image: X)

Professional French football female referee, Stephanie Frappart, has officiated numerous high-profile football tournaments in her officiating career. Stephanie Frappart’s name has been an active inclusion in the FIFA International Referees List since 2009. Frappart created history in 2019 as she became the first female referee in the history of football to officiate a major men’s European match and a French Ligue 1 match. Additionally, Frappart also established herself as the first-ever female referee to officiate a UEFA Champions League match in the year 2020.

Moreover, Frappart is also widely revered as the first female referee to take charge of a men’s World Cup qualifying match in the same year. Frappart’s fair and prompt decision-making skills also made her serve as the first female referee in the history of football to officiate a men’s World Cup match in 2022. Furthermore, Stephanie Frappart was also a part of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup’s officiating team, in Australia and New Zealand.

2. Salima Mukansanga

Top 5 Best Female Referees in the History of Football
Salima Mukansanga

Salima Mukansanga has been passionate about football and basketball since her childhood days. Although Mukansanga couldn’t pursue her professional career in basketball due to her young age, she undertook a professional football officiating course at the Rwanda Football Federation and officiated men’s local amateur football matches and women’s national second division matches in Rwanda after completing her nursing and midwifery degree from the University of Gitwe.

Salima Mukansanga has been a stable inclusion in the list of international referees for FIFA since 2012. Additionally, Mukansanga also officiated the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup which was held in France. As of 2024, Salima Mukansanga has officiated at numerous high-profile tournaments, including the Olympics, FIFA Women’s World Cup, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and CAF Women’s Champions League. Moreover, Salima Mukansanga was felicitated as one of the BBC 100 Women in December 2022 for her significant contributions to the game of football.

3. Yoshimi Yamashita

Top 5 Best Female Referees in the History of Football
Yoshimi Yamashita

Born on 20th February 1986, the 38-year-old professional Japanese female referee, Yohsimi Yamashita,  has established herself as one of the most influential women in football. Yohsimi Yamashita has officiated numerous prestigious football tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup, Olympics and league matches. Yoshimi Yamashita nailed her role as a referee at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup held in France and at the spine-chilling match between the United States and Sweden at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Additionally, Yoshimi established herself as the first Japanese female referee to ever officiate a men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Furthermore, Yoshimi Yamashita is also globally acknowledged for being the first female football referee to officiate both the men’s AFC Champions League and the J1 League. Yoshimi Yamashita’s revolutionary officiating career also included a record-breaking review during the match between Norway and New Zealand at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where the Japanese referee became the first female referee to deliver an in-stadium explanation of a video-reviewed decision in the history of women’s international football. 

4. Kate Jacewicz 

Top 5 Best Female Referees in the History of Football
Kate Jacewicz

Professional football referee Katherine Margaret Jacewicz was listed on FIFA’s list of international referees in 2011 and, since then, she has witnessed active inclusion in high-profile international football tournaments.

Kate Jacewiz made her FIFA breakthrough with the Final match of the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup which was held in Jordan. Later, Kate was also selected as one of the twenty-seven polished referees for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Although Kate officiated only a total of two matches in the entire 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, her presence was felt by millions of fans and supporters throughout the world.

Moreover, Kate Jacewiz officiated the A-League match between Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets in the 2019–20 A-League season and established herself as the first female football referee to achieve the feat in such a brief span of time. Furthermore, the Australian female referee, Katherine Margaret Jacewicz, also officiated a total of two matches at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which took place in Australia.

5. Bibiana Steinhaus

Top 5 Best Female Referees in the History of Football
Bibiana Steinhau (Image: X)

Bibiana Steinhaus, from Germany, is one of the top female referees in football. She started her career in 1999 and quickly became well-known for her fair and accurate decisions. In 2007, she made history by being the first woman to referee a men’s professional match in Germany’s 2. Bundesliga.

Steinhaus has been on FIFA’s list of international referees since 2005. She has officiated at major events like the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cups. In 2017, she broke new ground by becoming the first woman to referee a match in Germany’s top league, the Bundesliga.

Her career includes officiating at the UEFA Women’s Champions League and the UEFA Women’s Euro. In 2012, she was chosen to referee the gold medal match at the Olympic Games in London. Steinhaus’s achievements have set a high standard and opened doors for more women to become referees in football.

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