Nigeria’s female FIFA-badged referee, Mimisen Iyorhe, would join Ethiopian central referee, Lidya Tafesse, and Malawian assistant referee, Bernadettar Kwimbira, to officiate at the forthcoming 2020 African Nations Championship in Cameroon.
A statement by the Confederation of African Football on Tuesday said the trio joined their male counterparts, 19 referees and 19 assistant referees, in the five-day training preceding the championship.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the championship, which is in its sixth edition, would hold from April 4 to 25.
The statement quoted CAF Refereeing Director, Eddy Maillet, as saying that the decision was to provide a platform of more competitions for the female referees, considering the limited number of women’s tournaments and also to improve their match fitness.
Maillet said: “We launched this ground-breaking initiative during the U-17 AFCON in Tanzania last April and the result was inspiring.
“During the U-23 AFCON in November in Egypt, the performance of the female referees was impressive which saw two of them (Fathia Jermouni and Salma Mukansanga) taking part in the third place match.
“The CHAN is the next senior competition after the Africa Cup of Nations, and it will provide a major platform for the female trio to prove that they are capable.
”It was interesting to see them compete for a spot in the final tournament with their male counterparts.”
The statement added that the five-day training programme focused primarily on the application of Video Assistant Referees, which would be deployed at the sixth edition of the competition designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues.
The statement said: “It was under the supervision of experienced instructors such as Jerome Damon (South Africa), Jean Claude Birimushahu (Burundi), Hadqa Yahya (Morocco), Hannachi Boubaker (Tunisia) and Mohamed Hussein Ali (Djibouti).
“It was the second major seminar for the pre-selected match officials after a similar one in Cairo, Egypt last February.”
NAN reports that with this development, CHAN will be the third major men’s competitions to have female match officials after the Total U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (Tanzania 2019) and the Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Egypt 2019.)
NAN also reports that Tafesse is one of the most experienced female match officials having participated in major competitions, including the last FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019.
On her part, Kwimbira has several Women’s Africa Cup of Nations participation to her credit in addition to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, whilst Iyorhe served at the 2016 and 2018 Women AFCON.