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This Japanese Woman Referee Has Become One Of The First Women To Officiate Matches At The World Cup

Yoshimi Yamashita says she hopes she can inspire more women and help to normalize seeing women referees on the pitch.

Meet Yoshimi Yamashita, the first Japanese woman to serve as a referee at the World Cup.

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Fourth official Yoshimi Yamashita looks on during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and England at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on November 29, 2022. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Yamashita is among three women referees selected to oversee matches at the tournament in Qatar.

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Woman referee Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan is seen as the fourth official prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Canada at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Nov. 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

The other two women in the pool of 36 candidates on FIFA’s World Cup referee list this year include France’s Stéphanie Frappart and Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga.

“For us women to participate in the men’s World Cup for the first time is sending a message that there are more opportunities for women in the future,” Yamashita told Reuters.

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Fourth official Yoshimi Yamashita indicates a substitution during the match between Belgium and Canada in the Group F match at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rajjan, on Nov. 23 2022. (Photo by Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images)

She has previously officiated at the Women’s World Cup and Tokyo Olympics.

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Woman referee Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan is seen as the fourth official prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Canada at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Nov. 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

She hopes more women will be inspired to break into the male-dominated event.

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The Fourth Official Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan holds the ball prior to kick off in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Canada and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on Dec. 01, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Youssef Loulidi/Fantasista/Getty Images)

“There are barely any female referees in the Middle East,” she said. “After the World Cup, it would be wonderful to see even just one more female referee.”

yoshimi yamashita japan woman referee qatar world cup
The match officials (L to R), Assistant Referee Rafael Foltyn of Germany, the Fourth Official Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan, the Referee Daniel Siebert of Germany and Assistant Referee Jan Seidel also of Germany look on prior to kick off in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group H match between Ghana and Uruguay at Al Janoub Stadium on Dec. 2, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo by Youssef Loulidi/Fantasista/Getty Images)

On Dec. 1, three women referees from France, Brazil and Mexico made history as the first all-women referee team to take charge of a men’s World Cup match for the first time in 96 years.

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Fourth official Yoshimi Yamashita (R) poses with Brazilian referee Neuza Back prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Canada at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

France’s Stéphanie Frappart was appointed head referee, along with two assistant referees, Brazil’s Neuza Back and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina, to officiate the group stage game between Costa Rica and Germany.

yoshimi yamashita japan referee world cup shake hands
Eden Hazard of Belgium shakes hands with fourth official Yoshimi Yamashita prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on Nov. 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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