Stephanie Frappart’s handling of Liverpool’s Super Cup victory over Chelsea on Wednesday has been hailed by media outlets across Europe.
Frappart made history in Istanbul as the first woman to referee a major European men’s match.
Her performance was described by outlets as a genuine display of professionalism, rather than a token step towards gender equality.
“Stephanie Frappart will never forget yesterday. Neither will her assistants Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O’Neill,” Spanish paper Sport said.
“And not just because they were the European Super Cup referees, but because they did it at such an excellent level.”
Frappart, who grew up playing football for local teams in the Paris region, was hailed in the French media too.
France’s Sport.Orange reported what it called a level-headed statement at the pre-match news conference: “We aren’t afraid, because we’re always ready for any match […] We have to demonstrate that on a physical, technical and tactical level, we have the same capacities that men do, so I’m not afraid.”
Ouest-France quoted Liverpool manager Jorgen Klopp’s praise for the all-female referee team: “After the match, I told them that if we’d played as well as they refereed, we’d have won 6-0… I couldn’t have more respect for Stephanie Frappart.”
French magazine L’Express quoted Lille manager Christophe Galtier praising Frappart’s “diplomatic nature”.
“As male managers, we’re under a lot of pressure, our tempers can flare up,” Galtier said. “All she has to do is give us a look, a smile, a gesture, and all of that stops.”
In Germany, Tagesspiegel said Frappart’s refereeing “is now another beautiful sign on the road to gender equality in an environment still dominated by men”. It added: “The fact that this path is being taken rather slowly is of secondary importance today.”
Sueddeutsche Zeitung noted that although it was always best if referees are not discussed after the final whistle, Frappart is “being talked about more and more often – though in this case that is a good thing”.
Over in Italy, La Gazzetta dello Sport said Frappart “aced the exam”.
The fact that veteran referee Roberto Rosetti also praised her, the paper said, meant that “this wasn’t just an experiment or a decision motivated by political correctness… You don’t even realise she’s there for most of the match, which is generally a sign the referee is doing a good job”.
But many Twitter users pointed out that that Iranian broadcaster Varzesh TV tried to avoid airing close-ups of the referee. Others noted that the state broadcaster censored images of Frappart shaking hands with the team captains.
“It’s shameful,” one Iranian user said. “If they show a close-up of the female referee, fire will rain down on us,” joked another.