Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez believes the milestone appointment of a female referee at the men’s World Cup is a major step forward for the “very sexist” football industry.
Stephanie Frappart will make history on Thursday as the first woman to take charge of a match at the men’s tournament when she oversees the crunch clash between Suarez’s side and Germany.
The 38-year-old will lead an all-female on-field team after FIFA selected Neuza Back of Brazil and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina as her assistants.
The French woman will be familiar to fans of Celtic after she officiated their Champions League game at Real Madrid earlier this year.
Germany must win the Group E match to stay in contention for the knockout stages, while Costa Rica can guarantee a last-16 spot with victory.
“I admire everything that women have conquered and I like that they want to keep on conquering things,” Suarez told a press conference.
“This is another step forward, which speaks volumes of this woman, of her commitment of doing things.
“And especially in this sport, it’s a very sexist one. It’s very difficult to reach the point she has reached.
“I like it, it’s a situation that is good for football, it’s another positive step. It means opening up football more for everyone.
“One good thing about football is that it has always been democratic and this is also a very democratic step.”
Costa Rica are once again bidding to upset the more established countries, having helped eliminate Italy and England en route to the quarter-finals of the 2014 tournament, in addition to progressing from the group stage at Italia ’90.
Suarez, whose team bounced back from a 7-0 drubbing by Spain to beat Japan, believes the World Cup brings out the best in the Central American nation.
“Since our last World Cup, eight years have gone by and the players have changed,” said the 62-year-old Colombian.
“We have good memories and it might be down to the genes of the Costa Ricans. When they reach a World Cup, they’re able to do things differently. They play well.
“And I’m not just talking about what happened in 2014 in Brazil. In Italy in 1990, they qualified for the last 16 and nobody believed in them back in the day, so Costa Rica has achieved interesting things.”
Germany coach Hansi Flick also backed the historic decision to appoint Frappart for the match at Al Bayt Stadium.
Frappart has already broken new ground in Qatar, having last week become the first female fourth official in the men’s competition.
“I trust her 100 per cent,” said Flick. “I think she deserves to be here due to her performance and her achievements.
“We’re looking forward to this match and I hope that she is looking forward to this match as well. I think she will perform very well.”
Germany are at risk of being eliminated in the group stage for the second successive World Cup following their dismal defence as reigning champions in Russia in 2018.
Victory would still leave them reliant on the result between Spain and Japan and, potentially, goal difference.
Flick, who was assistant to Joachim Low when his country lifted the World Cup trophy in 2014 in Brazil, has no intention of walking away from the job regardless of the outcome.
“I can confirm it from my side,” he said. “I don’t know what else is going to happen.
“But my contract is running up to 2024. I am also looking forward to the European Championship back home but we have got time to go until then. I don’t really feel too much pressure.”
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