First female World Cup referees living ‘the impossible dream’ in Qatar

First female World Cup referees living ‘the impossible dream’ in Qatar

Kathryn Nesbitt, one of six female match officials making history at the World Cup, says she is living an "impossible dream".

The 34-year-old American is one of three assistant referees, alongside Brazil's Neuza Back and Mexico's Karen Diaz Medina, with France's Stephanie Frappart, Rwanda's Salima Mukansanga and Japan's Yoshimi Yamashita the three referees which make up a six-woman contingent alongside a 30-man strong men's team.

It is the first World Cup that has included female officials in its roster and comes in a tournament hosted in Qatar, the Gulf state whose record on LGBTQ+ and women's rights, along with its treatment of foreign workers who helped build the tournament stadia, has long been under the spotlight.

Nesbitt is aware of the pressure she, and the other five, are under no matter who is hosting the tournament.

Trailblazer: Kathryn Nesbitt (Getty Images)
Trailblazer: Kathryn Nesbitt (Getty Images)

"If a mistake is made, there will be more attention on it," she is quotes as saying by the Los Angeles Times. “The thought process has always been you can’t mess up, which is kind of a scary thing to say. We are human, and we’re going to make mistakes.

“But the women that have come this far have been dealing with that pressure for years. We’re all very experienced with what that feels like and are ready for the challenge.”

She added to the Washington Post: "One of the biggest things I’ve learned in my career — and this has been in chemistry too, both being very male-heavy areas — is the best way to impress is to do your job well."

In 2020, Nesbitt was voted among the best assistant referees in Major League Soccer and later that year took charge of the MLS Cup final. She has since gone on to be part of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers head of the 2022 World Cup.

She added: "Going to a World Cup ... means that you are the best in your country and then the best in your confederation and then still, a small pool of the best officials in the world. It isn’t the step that happens for everybody.”

“This is going to be another example showing that we can do the work the same as the men," Nesbitt concluded.