Humble Frappart completes refereeing journey at World Cup

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group E - Costa Rica v Germany - Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - December 1, 2022 Referee Stephanie Frappart talks to Germany's Manuel Neuer before the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

PARIS, Dec 1 (Reuters) - When Stephanie Frappart stepped onto the Al Bayt stadium grass on Thursday, she became the first woman to referee a men's World Cup game to complete a journey that started almost 30 years ago in the outskirts of Paris.

The 38-year-old Frenchwoman, who was overseeing the action in the final Group E game between Germany and Costa Rica, played football between the age of 10 and 13 in Herblay-sur-Seine before changing path to become a referee.

"I saw Steph run around the stadium, 12 kilometres, two or three times a week to be at the level she is at now on the field," Philippe Calve, the former president of FC Herblay-sur-Seine, told Reuters in a cafe on Thursday.

"If you want to referee men's matches, you'd better be at your best on a physical level. And she has done what she needs to be physically on the top."

Frappart became the first woman to referee a French Ligue 1 match in 2019, and the first woman to officiate at a men's Champions League match in 2020. Last year, she became the first woman to take charge of a men's World Cup qualifying match.

"This was the last item on the list of things she could do, she has been beating every record from the beginning. She works hard. She had this goal of going to the men's World Cup and she made it thanks to her qualities and her work," Calve added.

"We are very proud. I sent her a text yesterday, as usual, to tell her that she would be up for it and she will be."

Frappart has made regular donations to her former club and visits on a regular basis.

"She stayed humble. She can chat with anyone without giving it too much thought, from the person she meets in a bar, to someone on the street or just a kid," Calve added.

"She hasn't changed. Everyone who knows her knows that."

Frappart is the pride of the town, and an inspiration.

"To me it's a source of pride (that a woman referees at the men's World Cup for the first time) and it's a step forward for our rights, in allowing (women) to occupy more positions that are given in priority to men," Dominique Edeyer, cafe owner in Herblay, told Reuters.

Calve added: "I have a young girl who is around 15 or 16, who has started to referee. She has one goal, doing what Steph does. She really wants to do the same thing."

Writing by Julien Pretot in Doha; editing by Pritha Sarkar

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