Stéphanie Frappart is the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup game. Before the game between Germany and Costa Rica, we spoke to her colleague Karoline Wacker.
Football Germany turns its eyes to Al Bayt Stadium tomorrow. There, the decisive game for the DFB team against Costa Rica in the fight for the round of 16 takes place. But not only the footballers will cause a stir. FIFA has appointed Stéphanie Frappart to referee the game. The Frenchwoman is doing something new: a woman has never officiated a World Cup match.
Karoline Wacker doesn’t miss the game either. The 31-year-old from Sportfreunde Großerlach in the Rems-Murr district is a FIFA referee herself and is enthusiastic about the world association’s decision. “I’m happy! That shows the appreciation you have for her.” Although she doesn’t know the Frenchwoman personally, Wacker knows what sets Stéphanie Frappart apart: “She reads the game well and has shown faultless performances. She works incredibly hard and has a very good physique.”
Frappart also whistles the Champions League
At the highest level it is important to be able to keep up with the pace physically. That’s not a problem for Frappart and she also has experience in top-flight football. She has officiated in France’s Ligue 1 since 2019 and became the first woman to officiate a men’s Champions League game in December 2020. There are also several appearances in the Europa League and the finals of the UEFA Super Cup 2019 and the French Cup 2022.
Karoline Wacker is also familiar with endgames. In May 2022, she officiated the women’s DFB Cup final between VfL Wolfsburg and Turbine Potsdam. Overall, the finance officer from Lehrensteinsfeld managed 74 women’s Bundesliga games and 28 games in the 2nd women’s Bundesliga. She also whistles in the Regionalliga Südwest and can see a small difference between women and men. “The decision frequency is higher for men than for women, there are more fouls.” There are no differences in the direction of the game. It always depends on the type of player. Some are easier to manage, some less so.
When asked whether Wacker himself wants to whistle like Frappart on the biggest football stage, she says: “I don’t define myself by goals. I’m not. I let everything else come to me.”
Media interest increases
In addition to the appointment of Frapparts, Wacker, who was born in Murrhardt, is pleased about the increased media interest in women’s football. “The hype has increased since the European Championship.” Almost 18 million viewers watched the final match of the EM 2021 between Germany and England on TV. The increased interest is also affecting the women’s Bundesliga. Wacker refers to the November 26 game between SC Freiburg and SV Werder Bremen. There, the Freiburg women won 2-1 in front of more than 20,000 fans in the Weser Stadium. The women’s Bundesliga is confident that this trend will continue and that the organizers will schedule more games in the big arenas.
The game between Germany and Costa Rica will also take place in a large stadium on Thursday at 8 p.m. Karoline Wacker will “of course look at the match from the referee’s point of view”. In general, she is satisfied with the level of referees at the World Cup. Stéphanie Frappart also wants to build on these achievements when the big football world watches her on Thursday.