For more on Mukansanga and the significance of her appearance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, VOA’s James Butty spoke to Eddie Nsabimana, a sports reporter at The New Times.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: Tell us more about Salima Radia Mukansanga
Nsabimana: Mukansanga is a female first division Rwandan referee and has been doing so for a long time.
She started officiating football matches as a teenager, where she oversaw games in the second division for over 10 years.
VOA: When was her significant breakthrough to the first division?
Nsabimana: She was promoted to the first division of Rwanda’s Premier League in 2018, meaning she has over four years of experience in that division which has equipped her with the right skills to oversee international fixtures.
VOA: Will the World Cup mark her first call up to officiate over an international fixture?
Nsabimana: The FIFA World Cup will not be her first time refereeing in an international fixture.
Mukansanga officiated at the 2022 African Cup of Nations tournament which was held in Cameroon where she performed well and oversaw several games, among them being the fixture between Guinea and Zimbabwe, which is where the entire continent learnt about her.
VOA: What do you think Mukansanga did to attract the attention of FIFA for her to receive a call up to the World Cup?
Nsabimana: I believe her performance at AFCON is where FIFA first noticed her which led to her receiving the opportunity to officiate fixtures at the World Cup in Qatar.
"Mukansanga is not at the World Cup by chance neither is she there because she is a woman, she is there because she is exceptional at what she does." he says..
Mukansanga will be joined by French referee Stephanie Frappart and Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita as the first women to officiate at the men's World Cup.