Women in refereeing: A Woman from Santa Catarina is the first Brazilian in the World Cup

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The World Cup in Qatar will be the first in the history of competition with women in refereeing. Among the 36 referees and 69 referee assistants selected by the entity promoting the competition, six women were chosen. Three of them are referees: the French Stéphanie Frappart, the Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and the Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita.

Women in refereeing
Stéphanie Frappart
Women in refereeing
Salima Mukansanga
Women in refereeing
Yoshimi Yamashita

Another three are referee assistants: the Brazilian Neuza Inês Back, the Mexican Karen Díaz Medina, and the American and Kathryn Nesbitt.

Women in refereeing
Neuza Inês Back
Women in refereeing
Karen Díaz Medina
Women in refereeing
Kathryn Nesbitt

According to the organizer, the selected team is the best in action in the world today. Stéphanie refeeres in Ligue 1, the men’s national championship in France. She also refereed the final of the Women’s World Cup in 2019, and on December 2, 2020, she became the first woman to referee a match in the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s premier soccer tournament.

A wide soccer curriculum

The Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita also broke some records: she was the first woman to referee a men’s match in the Asian Champions League, the biggest soccer competition in the continent.

In January  2022, Rwandan Salima Mukansanga became the first female referee in an African Cup of Nations soccer match. She also refereed women’s matches at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2019 World Cup in France, the African Cup of Nations and the African Champions League.

A Brazilian on the team

The first Brazilian representative among women in refereeing in the main sporting event in soccer, the Santa Catarina native of Saudades city (located 65 km from Chapecó, in the west of the state), Neuza Back is 37 years old and has an extensive curriculum in the world of soccer. It includes performances at the Tokyo Olympics, the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the 2020 Club World Championship and different competitions in Brazil. Currently, she is among the main professionals in the country.

Holding a degree in Physical Education, Neuza Back was invited by her brother to participate in amateur soccer matches as a referee. With that, she gained experience in refereeing and was federated by the Santa Catarina Soccer Confederation. But it was only in 2008 that Neuza Back made her refereeing debut in professional soccer matches in Brazil. She officially became a professional with the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF) in the following year.

She officially received the news that she had been included in the FIFA refereeing list in 2012 as a recognition of her good performance. Since then, Neuza started to referee in different international competitions. The 2022 World Cup is a milestone not only in her career, but in the path marked out for many other Brazilian referees who will come after her.

Women in refereeing

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