For first time, men’s World Cup will have female referees

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — Female referees are making World Cup history by working games at a major men’s tournament for the first time in Qatar.

Three female referees and three female assistant referees were among the 129 officials FIFA selected.

“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first,’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” said FIFA Referees Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina, who worked the 2002 World Cup final. “In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender.”

One of the assistant referees, Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States, told NewsNation’s “Morning in America” that this is a dream come true for her.

“I was completely overjoyed,” she said. “I can’t even believe it.”

Nesbitt has broken barriers before: She was the first woman to officiate a men’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match in 2021.

“It was a step in the right direction and honestly, it gave me a little bit of hope that maybe someday this could be something that women could do,” she said.

Nesbitt has a Ph.D. in chemistry but is now a full-time soccer official. She’s been doing science and sports her whole life and wanted to get to the top level in both.

She not only played soccer as a child, but also competed in figure skating and volleyball.

Becoming a referee kept her involved in soccer as she grew up.

“I saw a path there and my hard work really paid off here,” she said. “So I’m grateful that I’ve been able to achieve something great with my career.”

This year’s FIFA World Cup will be from Nov. 21 through Dec. 17.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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