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Women referees ‘opened up possibilities’ at World Cup, says Yamashita

Women refereeing at the men’s World Cup for the first time “opened up possibilities” and must be built on, Japan’s trailblazer Yoshimi Yamashita said Thursday.

Yamashita was one of three women named on the list of 36 referees for the tournament in Qatar, which ends on Sunday.

She did not take charge of a match but was the fourth official for six first-round games.

Stephanie Frappart made history by becoming the first woman to referee a match at a men’s World Cup when she took charge of the Group E clash between Germany and Costa Rica.

Frenchwoman Frappart was part of an all-women refereeing team for the match, backed by assistants Neuza Back of Brazil and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina.

Yamashita said the tournament has been a landmark moment for football and urged officials not to let it go to waste.

“These are things that should be built on in the future — I want to see them being built on,” said the 36-year-old.

“If it just ends like this now, it will have no meaning. I want to play my part in helping to make sure it continues in the future,” she told reporters in Tokyo.

Yamashita said she was “happy from the bottom of my heart” that Frappart was named to referee Germany’s game against Costa Rica.

“It really opened up possibilities and I could see that happening right in front of me,” she said.

Yamashita became the first woman to take charge of an Asian Champions League match this year and has also officiated in the top flight of Japan’s J-League.

She said officiating at the World Cup reminded her “how amazing football is”.

“As one of the refereeing team to be appointed to a game I felt a responsibility to make sure it was a good game,” she said.

Three women officials were also named on a list of 69 assistant referees for the first time.

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