The super heroines of the Uefa Super Cup

The super heroines of the Uefa Super Cup
IN COMMAND: Referee Stephanie Frappart shows a yellow card to Chelsea captain Azpilicueta. - AP

Dubai - Frenchwomen Stephanie Frappart, Manuela Nicolosi and Ireland's Michelle O'Neill, conquered another frontier, becoming the first women to officiate a major footballing fixture in Europe



By James Jose

Published: Thu 15 Aug 2019, 9:39 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Aug 2019, 11:43 PM

As Liverpool prepared to update The Champions Wall at Melwood, their training ground, following their historic fourth Uefa Super Cup triumph, some 2000-odd miles away in Istanbul, three women made history of their own.
On a stifling night in the Turkish capital, Frenchwomen Stephanie Frappart, Manuela Nicolosi and Ireland's Michelle O'Neill, conquered another frontier, becoming the first women to officiate a major footballing fixture in Europe.
The trio refereed the Super Cup game between Liverpool and Chelsea and suffice to say, they came out at the back end of it, with flying colours.
It was a red-letter day, or rather night, and in the larger scheme of things, it was a shot in the arm in terms of gender equality and women empowerment. In the lead-up to the match, while there was praise for the Uefa, the governing body, for taking such a landmark step, there were also a few jokes flying on about, how these women would handle a big pressure game like this.
Talk about banter and players trying to harry the officials and forcing them into an error, diving theatrics, were doing the rounds.
In fact, just as the players and officials were to trot out of the tunnel for the second half, one of the players was seen having a word with Frappart. And the joke was that he was probably asking for her number.
In all seriousness though, Frappart and her team were on top of their game. The 35-year-old Frappart, who has also officiated in the French Ligue 1, ensured that the game flowed, which is what you want in a match like this. There were only three yellow cards the entire game, which spoke for her grip on things. There were one or two contentious calls, but who doesn't make mistakes.
Pertinently, her fitness levels were commendable, as she kept up with the pace of play and the length, especially as the match went the distance of 120 minutes.
Her deputies were admirable too with Nicolosi, her red nail-polished fingers wrapped around the flag pole, and O'Neill, patrolling the lines.
And quite surprisingly, the players were well-behaved, with Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta, hands behind his back, having a word with the ref, one of the standout images.
Perhaps, there is a lesson in all this. Women are better decision makers and are better at controlling a game. Uefa, Fifa, and other Leagues, take note.
james@khaleejtimes.com


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