The showpiece match is touted as the curtain-raiser for the European football season. A game for bragging rights between two English titans this year, it will be broadcast globally from Istanbul’s Vodafone Park, home of Turkish club Besiktas.
But at kick off, unenviable for a referee, all eyes will be the woman charged with keeping the players in line: Stéphanie Frappart.
The 35-year-old Frenchwoman is no stranger to the spotlight. At every pioneering new rung in her nearly two-decade officiating career -- often umpiring male footballers who tower over her 1.64m, 54kg frame -- Frappart has garnered extra attention until her skill afforded her the good referee’s cloak of invisibility.
“When nobody mentions the referee, it’s that he has done his job well. And when no one notices the woman in the black shirt, it’s that she belongs,”writes one French Daily.
It has been reported that, absent-mindedly in the heat of match play, footballers will accidentally call her, Mister Referee. Not that Frappart especially minds. “It shows that there is no longer that barrier for them,” she has said.
In April, after nearly 80 games in France’s second-division Ligue 2, Frappart became the first woman in French football history to referee a top-flight Ligue 1 game, drawing an unusually thick media horde to a Sunday afternoon mid-table match against Strasbourg at Amiens.
In June, Frappart was promoted to the permanent pool of referees for the new Ligue 1 season.
“Stéphanie has proved over a number of years that she is one of the best female referees, not just in Europe but across the world,” UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti said as Frappart was named to oversee the Super Cup.
“She has the ability to officiate on the biggest stage, as she proved at this year’s Women’s World Cup final. I hope this match in Istanbul will provide her with yet more experience as she enters the prime of her refereeing career.”