Stephanie Frappart and her officials have been widely praised by supporters during Liverpool and Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup clash on Wednesday night.
French official Frappart and her assistants Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O’Neill became the first female refereeing team to oversee a major men’s final in Istanbul.
Frappart, who broke new ground by refereeing a men’s top flight match in France in April, has a wealth of experience in the women’s game, including taking charge of the World Cup final in July.
Despite this, questions were raised about whether she had enough experience to oversee the UEFA Super Cup final. But fans were quick to praise her performance on social media on Wednesday, citing the officials as one of the main reasons the match was so engaging to watch.
Stephanie Frappart and her officials were widely praised by fans during the UEFA Super Cup
Frappart and her team became the first female officials to oversee a major men’s final
Frappart’s appointment was welcomed by managers and players from both teams ahead of the match.
Chelsea’s Frank Lampard said: ‘It’s great news. I am very pleased to be a part of this moment in history. It is very much due.’
Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp also described the appointment as overdue, saying: ‘I think it’s time. It’s the first one, it’s special, but I hope it’s not the last time.’
Reds defender Virgil Van Dijk, meanwhile, said: ‘Gender is irrelevant and if the quality is there – and it is because she’s been appointed to this game for a reason – then that’s fine. I think she deserves this game.’
Frappart had a comfortable evening with few flash-points or moments of dissent from players.
She did not issue a card until the 79th minute when she booked Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta for a foul on Sadio Mane. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson also went in the book for a foul on Emerson.
Frappart’s assistants took centre stage with three excellent decisions too.
Frenchwoman Frappart was joined by assistants Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O’Neill (above)
First Christian Pulisic ran through before finding the net apparently to make it 2-0 to Chelsea but the flag went up to indicate the United States international was offside, which was confirmed by VAR.
Early in the second half, Chelsea appealed for offside against Roberto Firmino as he set up Mane for the equaliser but the flag stayed down and a VAR check showed the decision was again correct.
Chelsea then had another ‘goal’ chalked off when the flag went up to deny Mason Mount, another call that was supported by technology.
Frappart’s most contentious call came very early when an acrobatic effort from Mane hit Andreas Christensen’s arm but it was from very close range and no penalty was given.
The Frenchwoman had previously only overseen a handful of men’s fixtures before Wednesday’s game but passed the stringent physical examination UEFA implement for all male officials.
There were no questions about whether she has the athletic capabilities to keep up with the pace of the clash between Liverpool and Chelsea.
Roberto Rossetti, UEFA’s head of refereeing who succeeded Pierliugi Collina, made it clear that are no concerns whatsoever about Frappart or her assistants, compatriot Manuela Nicolosi and Ireland’s Michelle O’Neill.
‘She’s good – she’s really good,’ said Rossetti before the match. ‘She did a great season last season. She did very well, she did a great World Cup, she was a referee of the final, she is prepared, technically she is good, she understands football, refereeing, everything.
There had been questions about whether Frappart had enough experience to referee the game
‘Physically she ran like a male referee. Mentally she is very strong; she’s ready for this match. Then, you know, I think it’s not a matter of gender. Everybody can make mistakes. I’m confident she’ll do well. We had the idea with at the UEFA referee committee during the World Cup. They are ready.’
Frappart and her assistants briefly faced the media in Istanbul – UEFA would only allow four questions before she went to train inside the stadium – but she is not flustered about the attention that has come her away.
‘My life changed because I’m more popular now in all the world,’ said Frappart. ‘I was appointed [as a referee] in Ligue 1 in France, so I know the feeling, the strategy and I know my emotions. I know how to keep [them in check] and how I train.
‘This is not the first appointment for me [in men’s football], I know really the meaning of that. I think there is not a lot difference, because football is the same. Only teams play differently, refereeing is the same; football is the same. Nothing changes in me. I am not afraid.’