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Women Referees Make African Football History at CHAN


Morocco's Walid El Karti runs with the ball during the African Nations Championships (CHAN) football match between Morocco and Rwanda at Stade de la Reunification in Douala, Cameroon, on January 22, 2021. (Photo by Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP)

Three women referees created history Saturday at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarterfinals.

Ethiopian referee Lidya Tafesse and her assistants, Malawian Bernadettar Kwimbira and Nigerian Mimisen Iyorhe, became the first women to control a match at a senior CAF male tournament.

The breakthrough came two years after women referees handled matches at the African under-23 and under-17 Cup of Nations tournaments.

Tafesse, a former professional basketball player, tolerated no foul play as she yellow-carded three Tanzanians within 10 minutes during the second half.

African male footballers often dispute decisions against them, but most accepted without hesitation the rulings of Tafesse at the Stade Omnisport in the southwestern coastal resort.

"Lidya really enjoyed herself tonight and was a wonderful advertisement for female referees," a CAF official, who requested anonymity as he is not an official spokesperson, told AFP.

CAF refereeing manager Eddy Maillet from the Seychelles was pleased as the trio created history eight days into the sixth edition of the Nations Championship.

"The CHAN is the second most senior national team competition in the continent after the Africa Cup of Nations," he said.

"It is a wonderful platform for Lidya, Bernadettar and Mimisen to prove what they are capable of. They competed with male referees for places at this tournament and now they have made history," he added.

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