Andorra v England ‘a very important moment for gender equality’
Gareth Southgate believes England’s World Cup qualifier with Andorra will be ‘a very important moment for gender equality’ with the game set to be refereed by a team of four women officials.
The match at the Estadi Nacional on Saturday night will be the first time an England men’s senior team fixture will be refereed by a woman, with Kateryna Monzul overseeing the contest.
The 40 year old will be joined by fellow Ukrainians Maryna Striletska and Svitlana Grushko as her assistants and France’s Stephanie Frappart on VAR duty.
Monzul is a vastly experienced official, having refereed at four women’s World Cups, which included the 2015 final between the United States and Japan.
This is also not Monzul’s first men’s game. She became the first woman to take charge of a senior men’s international when she oversaw San Marino and Gibraltar last year, and she also refereed Austria’s 3-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Faroe Islands in March.
Southgate said: “It is a very important moment for gender equality. For us, it is almost irrelevant because it is the quality of the official which is important, not the gender.
“We are looking forward to being part of what is a special occasion.”
The sentiment was echoed by the famous former referee Pierluigi Collina, who is now chairman of FIFA’s referees committee.
Colina said: “FIFA will continue to champion the development of female refereeing and I’m confident that the appointment of female match officials to men’s games will be absolutely commonplace in the future.”
England go into tomorrow’s match in Andorra four points ahead at the top of their FIFA World Cup qualifying group, with Albania second, Poland five points behind in third and Hungary six points from the summit in fourth.
The Three Lions will then welcome fans back to Wembley on Tuesday night for the visit of Hungary, having beaten Andorra 4-0 there last month.
Today marked the five-year anniversary of Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge, when his side beat Malta 2-0, and the England head coach believes that reconnection with the country’s fans is one of the things he is most proud of during his tenure.
— England (@England) October 8, 2021
Southgate said: “I suppose there have been different periods across that timeline. The first thing we wanted to do was restore confidence and then across the period of time, I think optimism.
“That was best embodied in terms of the players in that I can remember that it was difficult to get players to come [to international camps] at times.
“Now we have three lads who came into the squad late but they couldn’t wait to be here.
“There are lots of markers we could use but for me in terms of the working team and the progress made, the enthusiasm for the team and the connection with the country, they are the things in the utmost of my mind.”