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Gareth Southgate hails female referee as watershed moment for gender equality

Kateth Monzgate

Gareth Southgate has heralded England’s first match to be refereed by a woman as a watershed occasion for gender equality.

Kateryna Monzul will take charge of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier away in Andorra.

She will officiate the match at the Estadi Nacional, with UEFA’s official website confirming her fellow Ukrainians Maryna Striletska and Svitlana Grushko as assistant referees.

France’s Stephanie Frappart will be the VAR, with the fourth official and assistant VAR roles filled by men – Denys Shurman and Vikor Matyash respectively.

Southgate acknowledged it is a step forward for female officials but is largely uninterested in their sex so long as his side are refereed by competent officials.

“It is a very important moment for gender equality, absolutely,” said the England boss.

“For us, it’s almost irrelevant. It’s the quality of the official that is important, not the gender. So we are looking forward to being a part of what is a special occasion.”

The same female trio were in action a week ago for FC Copenhagen’s Europa Conference League victory over Lincoln Red Imps, with Monzul already breaking down barriers.

San Marino versus Gibraltar in a Nations League D group game may not seem like a place for footballing landmarks but on November 14, 2020, Monzul was part of the first all-female team that took charge of a men’s international fixture.

She showed a straight red card to San Marino defender Davide Simoncini in a match which ended goalless.

Born in Kharkiv, Monzul started officiating Ukrainian First League fixtures in 2011 and five years later broke new ground as the first female to referee a game in the Ukrainian Premier League.

She was named the league’s best referee for the 2019/20 season and went on to take charge of Austria’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Faroe Islands in March this year.

Listed as a FIFA international referee since 2004, Monzul has refereed two semi-finals at the Women’s Euros and was in the middle for the 2015 Women’s World Cup final as the United States beat Japan.

She has also refereed a Lionesses match, overseeing England’s 2-1 group-stage win over Portugal at Euro 2017.

All of this means, while England’s 1,025th official match will be the first refereed by a female, for the woman in question it is just another day at the office.