'We’re not afraid about this game': Irish referee to make history in Chelsea-Liverpool Super Cup clash

'We’re not afraid about this game': Irish referee to make history in Chelsea-Liverpool Super Cup clash

Stephanie Frappart will make history when she becomes the first female official to take charge of a major UEFA’s men competition showpiece tonight – a moment Irish assistant Michelle O’Neill hopes will inspire the next generation.

The Super Cup meeting between Champions League winners Liverpool and Europa League holders Chelsea will not only be an interesting occasion but a momentous one too.

Frappart, who refereed July’s Women’s World Cup final and has officiated in Ligue 1 matches, will take charge of the UEFA Super Cup at Besiktas Stadium, becoming the first female official to take charge of a major UEFA men’s competition event.

“Of course we feel ready,” the 35-year-old said on the eve of the game. “We train a lot, all the time, we’re not afraid about this game as we’re always ready for all the games.

“I think there is not a lot difference, because football is the same. Only teams play differently, men and woman we cannot referee the same game: refereeing is the same, football is the same, I would do the same I do in women’s football.”

Frappart will be assisted by Manuela Nicolosi and O’Neill, who is from Wexford, just as she was for the Women’s World Cup final between the United States and Holland.

Referees Training Session – Besiktas Park
Michelle O’Neill, right, is looking forward to the occasion (handout pic)

O’Neill said: “It’s not our first time on the big stage, we were at the Women’s World Cup.

“When I went back to Ireland, I’m first man or woman to be in a World Cup final.  I already know how to react to all the different emotions, to train and focus, that’s what we do every day.

“In my personal life, it’s pretty nice that you have young girls, young kids being inspired.

“You’re leading the way and opening the doors of the pathway to these kids coming up, that’s pretty special.”

Croatia v England – FIFA World Cup 2018 – Semi Final – Luzhniki Stadium
Cuneyt Cakir, right, has big match experience (PA)

The fourth official in Turkey will be experienced men’s referee Cuneyt Cakir, who believes Frappart and her team will be more than suitable for this match.

“For us there is no difference between a man and woman referee,” the Turkish official said.

“We’re all referees, when we go to (the) field of play they call us referee, not woman referee or man referee.

“Two weeks ago in Zagreb, we did a training camp, we did the same preparation, the same fitness test, the same laws of the game test, the same training sessions, there is no difference. When we go to the field there is no gender.

UEFA Nations League Finals Draw – Shelbourne Hotel

Roberto Rosetti is satisfied Frappart is prepared (PA)

”I worked with Stephanie and her team three years ago at the Olympics, during the tournament from the beginning to the end we did training all together, we did all the matches the same, they are really brave, they have courage, they don’t hesitate to give unpopular decisions. You will see tomorrow.”

Those sentiments were echoed by UEFA Referees Committee chairman Roberto Rosetti.

“She’s good,” he said of Frappart. “She’s really good. She did a great season last season, she did very well, she did a great World Cup.

Referees Training Session – Besiktas Park
Nicolosi, Frappart, Cakir and O’Neill warm up during a training session at the Besiktas Stadium (handout)

“She was a referee of the final, she is prepared, technically she is good, she understands football, refereeing, everything.

“Physically she ran like a man 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.”

- Press Association

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