• Notably, 11 of the 12 referees are female, a testament to Africa's rising prominence
In the FIFA Women's World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand, 12 of the match officials hail from Africa. 11 are women. Their diversity is a testament to Africa's rising prominence in global football.
The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup has captured the world's attention, given the high quality of football and the talent on show in Australia and New Zealand.
Four African teams are participating, namely Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco and Zambia. While the continent will be supporting African teams, other individuals will also be flying Africa's flag, among them, 12 match officials.
Among FIFA's roster of 107 match officials overseeing the Women's World Cup matches, Morocco boasts the highest number of African officials with four, followed by South Africa, Rwanda, Cameroon, Zambia, Mali, Kenya and Mauritius with one each.
Notably, 11 of the 12 referees are female. The list includes:
Salima Mukansanga: Rwanda's Salima Mukansanga made history by becoming the first female referee from Africa to officiate at the men's World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
That was after she had broken the "glass ceiling" for African woman officials when, in 2022, she became the first female referee from the continent to take charge of an Africa Cup of Nations game.
A trained nurse, the 34-year-old has also officiated at the Olympics, the Africa Women's Champions League and the Women's World Cup in France, in 2019.
Vincentia Amedome: Vincentia Amedome from Togo was chosen to officiate the match between the Philippines and Switzerland at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand.
She made history as the first Togolese referee to be appointed at the biennial men's football tournament of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria in 2020, following in the footsteps of Ethiopian trailblazer Lydia Tafesse.
Amedome also officiated at the CAF Women's Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica, and the CAF Women's Champions League final in 2022.
Akhona Makalima: Akhona Makalima, a referee from South Africa, is known for her no-nonsense style of officiating in the country's top soccer league, the Premier Soccer League.
Makalima, who is 35 years old, has been a referee since 2014 and has worked at international events, such as the CAF Champions League and the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations.
This will be her first time officiating at the World Cup, and her debut match is scheduled for July 22 as the Fourth Official during Denmark vs China match at Perth Stadium in Australia.
Bouchra Karboubi: Morocco's Bouchra Karboubi is another debutant at the 2023 World Cup, but she is also a trailblazer after becoming the first female referee to officiate the final match of Morocco's Throne Cup in 2022.
Karboubi set another personal milestone in 2020, when she became the first female referee to oversee a match in Morocco's top-tier professional football league, the Botola Pro 1.
The 36-year-old took charge of her first World Cup match on July 22 when defending champions, the United States of America, began their campaign against Vietnam at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, with compatriots Fatiha Jermoumi and Soukaina Hamdi serving as her assistants.
Besides the four centre referees, Cameroon's Carine Atezambong, Zambia's Diana Chikotesha, the Moroccan duo of Soukaina Hamdi and Fatiha Jermoumi, Mali's Fanta Kone, Kenya's Mary Njoroge and Queency Victoire from Mauritania will act as assistant referees, while Adil Zourak will serve as the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Kenya's Njoroge is returning to the World Cup after officiating at the 2019 tournament, and she has a top resume that also includes the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, CAF Confederation Cup and the U17 Africa Cup of Nations.
Morocco's Zourak is the only man in the 12-person crew of referees from Africa.