The 34-year-old took charge as the fourth referee when defending champions France defeated Australia in a 4-1 thrilling encounter.
Rwandan referee Salma Mukansanga made history in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as the first-ever African woman to officiate in a men’s World Cup tournament. The 34-year-old took charge as the fourth referee when defending champions France defeated Australia in a 4-1 thrilling encounter.
The match was officiated by three other African referees, including South Africa's Victor Gomes, the center referee, assisted by Zakhele Siwela, also from South Africa and Souru Phatsoane from Lesotho.
Mukansanga is one of three female referees chosen to officiate in the men’s World Cup alongside French Stephanie Frappart and Japanese Yamashita Yoshimi.
Speaking to FIFA in an interview after she was chosen as one of the officials for the World Cup, Mukansanga said that it was a huge honor for her to represent women from around Africa who dreamt of refereeing in the global showcase.
"Being appointed to the Men's World Cup is new, another opportunity we get. It means FIFA recognizes that women are working hard, that we are providing quality refereeing and that we can deliver and reach higher, up to the top of the men's game," she said.
Mukansanga will also referee the Women's World Cup in New Zealand in 2023.
Mukansanga wanted to become a professional basketball player as a young girl. But she was told that she was not old enough to be a part of an U17 national side and to wait. So, she turned to football.
"I was 15 years old and I was told 'you're still young, maybe you'll get a chance in another two years.' So, I tried football. I'd never played football. But I said let me focus on something else," Mukansanga says.
"This is a big dream," she admits. "Every male referee has that dream too because it's their biggest competition.But my dream is not focused on the men's World Cup. My dream is the Women's World Cup [in Australia and New Zealand]. That is my first focus.
"And whenever my dream comes true, I have to shine."