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Stephanie Frappart: the referee in charge of Liverpool-Chelsea

The Ligue 1 referee will make history on Wednesday when she takes charge of the UEFA Super Cup with her assistants Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O'Neill.

Stephanie Frappart: the woman in charge of Liverpool-Chelsea
DAMIEN MEYER AFP

Stéphanie Frappart – and her assistant referees Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O'Neill – are set to make history in Wednesday’s European Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea in Istanbul as the first all-female match official team to take charge of the final of a UEFA competition.

Follow minute by minute live action from Istanbul: Liverpool - Chelsea.

Frappart already has a place in the annals of the game as the first female referee to officiate a French Ligue 1 game when she took charge of the fixture between Amiens and Strasbourg in April. Frappart and other trail.breakers such as Bibiana Steinhaus, who referees in the Bundesliga, and Sian Massey-Ellis, a Premier League and FIFA assistant referee, are helping to break down barriers in the game and promote equality as UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin stated when announcing the decision to hand the UEFA Super Cup to Frappart and her team.

“As an organisation, we place the utmost importance on the development of women's football in all areas. I hope the skill and devotion that Stephanie has shown throughout her career to reach this level will provide inspiration to millions of girls and women around Europe and show them there should be no barriers in order to reach one's dream.”

There will of course be dissenting voices but Frappart is a hugely respected referee – as is Steinhaus – and took charge of the Women’s World Cup final in France during the summer. For the 2019-20 season, she has been appointed a permanent Ligue 1 match official. But perhaps those who believe women should not officiate a men’s game should cast their mind back to the 2006 World Cup when Graham Poll required three yellow cards to give Croatia’s Josip Simunic his marching orders.

Manuela Nicolosi, Cuneyt Cakir, Stephanie Frappart and Michelle O'Neill.

Frappart: "There is no difference because football is the same"

Frappart is certainly not concerned about the extra scrutiny she will be under: “We have to prove ourselves technically and physically that we are the same as the men. We are not afraid about [making wrong decisions]. We are ready,” the 35-year-old said in a pre-match press conference. "I think there is not a lot difference because football is the same. It's the same rules so I will do the same as the women's game.”

Frappart’s sentiments were echoed by Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakir, who will act as the fourth official in the Vodafone Park. Çakir was criticized in 2013 for showing Manchester United winger Nani a straight red in a Champions League last-16 clash against Real Madrid and denied Alex Ferguson’s side two fairly watertight penalty appeals, leading then Madrid manager José Mourinho to opine: “The better team lost.”

"They are brave, they have courage, they don't hesitate to give unpopular decisions - you will see tomorrow,” Çakir said of Frappart, Nicolosi and O'Neill.

Both Frank Lampard and Jürgen Klopp have praised the decision to have Frappart officiate in Istanbul, with Klopp perhaps unwittingly providing an answer to a question that many have asked but few have come up with an answer to: how to stop footballers behaving aggressively towards referees when in other sports they are largely respected. “I will be showing my best face, otherwise my mum would be angry,” the Liverpool coach said. "It is the first one, so maybe that makes it more special, but I hope it is not the last."