From a competitive standpoint, Juventus’ Champions League match with Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday isn’t particularly exciting. While Juve will most likely have to win to have any chance at winning the group, they are already through to the knockout round, so the tension will certainly be less than it otherwise would have been had qualification still been in the balance.
But the match will be noteworthy all the same. Juve and Dynamo will be a part of history on Wednesday, as it was confirmed by UEFA on Monday that Stephanie Frappart of France will be the referee, becoming the first woman to ever take charge of a men’s Champions League game.
While not the first woman to referee in a men’s top flight in Europe—that distinction belongs to Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus—she has been blazing the trail through continental competition for a while now. One of the most respected officials in the women’s game, she’s also been refereeing men’s matches since 2011, when she started in the French third tier. By 2014 she became the first woman to be given charge of a Ligue 2 game, and in April of 2019 she became the first woman to officiate a Ligue 1 match, an appointment that served the dual purpose of rewarding her merit and giving her experience with VAR, which she would be utilizing in the Women’s World Cup that summer.
Frappart was eventually given the honor of officiating the final of the World Cup between the United States and the Netherlands. She controlled that game incredibly well, requiring only three bookings, and made effective use of VAR to correctly call a penalty against the Netherlands in the second half, resulting in the game’s first goal in an eventual 2-0 USA win.
Her profile has only kept growing. That August she was chosen to officiate the UEFA Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea, and this season she has been given a UEFA Nations League game, three Europa League games, one in qualifying and two in the group stage, as well as five Ligue 1 games, including a high-profile match between traditional French powers Lyon and Marseille.
Now, she will make history as she steps onto the field to command a Champions League game for the first time. UEFA always tend to ease newer officials into the Champions League with low-stress games, which is likely why she’s been assigned to Juve’s match, which has nothing in it in terms of what team might advance to the knockout stage. But there is no question that this appointment is one that Frappart wholly deserves, and it will be an honor for the club to participate in such a historic moment. We at BWRAO congratulate her on her achievement and wish her success both on Wednesday and well beyond.