International football needs educating on gender equality, the Westminster Chaplain for Sport has suggested.
His call comes after France’s Stephanie Frappart made history by becoming the first female referee to take charge of a major European men’s game in last week’s UEFA Super Cup final.
However, despite this major step for gender equality in European football, Mgr Vladimir Felzmann suggested that the international game needed further time and education on the issue.
“Equality is a part of Christ’s Good News,” he told The Catholic Universe.
Mgr Felzmann, who is also the CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, said it would be “great to see” women’s football matches given a significant platform alongside the men’s games, as well as having more women involved in football in general.
“Men refereeing women and women refereeing men would add to the mix. However, alas, as with racism, international games may need more time and education before gender equality becomes the acceptable norm,” he added.
Frappart is the foremost female official in the world game having refereed the Women’s World Cup final in July, as well as men’s matches in Ligue 1.
She was part of an all-female officiating team with assistants Manuela Nicolosi from Italy and Ireland’s Michelle O’Neill for the all-English Super Cup clash between Liverpool and Chelsea on Wednesday 14th August.
Her appointment was welcomed by managers and players from both teams ahead of the match, with Chelsea’s head coach Frank Lampard saying it was “great news” and “very much due”, while his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp also described the appointment as overdue, saying: “I think it’s time. It’s the first one, it’s special, but I hope it’s not the last time.”
Reds defender Virgil Van Dijk, meanwhile, said: “Gender is irrelevant and if the quality is there – and it is because she’s been appointed to this game for a reason – then that’s fine. I think she deserves this game.”
Frappart had a comfortable evening at Vodafone Park, in Istanbul, Turkey, with few flash-points or moments of dissent from players.
Liverpool won the match 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time for their fourth UEFA Super Cup title.
This bank holiday weekend’s Premier League fixtures:
Friday 23rd August
Aston Villa v Everton – 8:00pm
Saturday 24th August
Norwich City v Chelsea – 12:30pm
Brighton & Hove Albion v Southampton – 3:00pm
Manchester United v Crystal Palace – 3:00pm
Sheffield United v Leicester City – 3:00pm
Watford v West Ham United – 3:00pm
Liverpool v Arsenal – 5:30pm
Sunday 25th August
AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City – 2:00pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United – 4:30pm
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Burnley – 4:30pm
Picture: (left to right) Officials Manuela Nicolosi Cuneyt Cakir, Stephanie Frappart and Michelle O’Neill pose with their medals after the UEFA Super Cup Final at Besiktas Park, Istanbul. (Adam Davy/PA).