【Interview with YAMASHITA Yoshimi】”This tournament has made me more fascinated with football and convinced me that I was on the right track” - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
23 December 2022
Here we interviewed YAMASHITA Yoshimi, one of the first female referees selected for the FIFA World Cup™ who served as the fourth official in six matches at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, about her experiences at the tournament and her current thoughts.
〇This interview was conducted on 15 December.
――What are your thoughts now that you have experienced the FIFA World Cup™?
YAMASHITA Through my skin, I was able to feel the emotions and cheers of the crowd, as well as the beauty of the game of football and how it has the power to stir the hearts of so many. At the same time, the tournament has made me more fascinated with football than ever before.
――You served as the fourth official in six matches at this tournament, including the group stage match between Belgium and Canada in Group F.
YAMASHITA I was just as intrigued to learn about the appointment as I was to learn that I was taking part in this tournament. It goes without saying that I was nervous when I first entered the pitch as one of the referees, but I also had the distinct impression that my senses were intensifying, which reminded me that this is the World Cup.
――How did you watch the match as the fourth official, who is in charge of taking over if anything happens to any of the three referees on the pitch?
YAMASHITA As a member of the refereeing crew, I observed what was happening on the pitch, made my own judgements with the intention of assisting the referee when necessary. Even though I wasn't moving my feet, I was just as prepared as the referees on the pitch and kept my mind fully engaged during the match.
――For the first time ever, six female referees were selected for this tournament, with the female trio of Stephanie FRAPPART (France), Neuza BACK (Brazil) and Karen DIAZ (Mexico) taking on the pitch as referees for the group stage match between Costa Rica and Germany in Group E.
YAMASHITA I learned about the appointment during halftime of a match I was in charge of. When I heard that Karen Diaz, who was working the match with me as the fifth official, would be the assistant referee, I told her, “I'll give you a hug when this match is over.” I was so thrilled that the three women would be in charge of a match that I gave them all a big hug and congratulated them. The match kicked off at the same time as the Japan match, so I was watching the two matches simultaneously on TV and on my computer. The refereeing was excellent, and I simply enjoyed watching the match.
――Do you feel this is a big step forward for football?
YAMASHITA I think it is a really big step forward. It was particularly important that a trio of women were able to take charge of the match. I feel fortunate to witness the moment when possibilities of female referees opened up before my eyes.
――What were the views of the women referees who took part?
YAMASHITA Every one of us were intent on blowing the whistle or waving the flag, so we were all committed to doing our jobs well. When I spoke with them and watched them being interviewed, they all seemed to have a strong sense of commitment and take ownership of their own positions. They're very inspirational, and I've been reminded once more that I need to put in a lot of work myself.
――As a referee, how do you perceive this competition in terms of refereeing?
YAMASHITA I don't think anything has changed that much in terms of how the decisions were made, including VAR and additional time. People say that additional time has become longer, but it means that it is now measured more precisely. We have made preparations for this by asking the top teams in Qatar to play a match under the name of the Referee's Cup before the tournament. We continue to use VAR and other technologies in the same way as before. The only difference is that we've improved the technology to better communicate the results to everyone, such as being able to instantly provide a visual of the scene.
――Did you notice or learn anything new as a result of participating in this competition?
YAMASHITA There were many small things I noticed and learnt, but two of the biggest things I learned were, the beauty of football and that football will continue to be football. As I mentioned earlier, I was reminded of the greatness of football and how much it can touch people's hearts. At the same time, I also learnt that no matter the size of the stage, what we as referees and players must do remains the same in football.
――Do you think there are any areas, including refereeing, that will change in the future for you?
YAMASHITA I have said in the past that one of the pleasures and attractions of being a referee is being the one who brings out the best in football, and after taking part in this competition, I've realised that I was correct in that matter. I am now more motivated to face each match so that I can bring out the best of football even more in the future.
――You were the only referee selected from Japan for this competition. How do you intend to pass on what you have experienced at this tournament so that more referees will be able to take part in the World Cup in the future?
YAMASHITA That is something I am thinking about a lot right now. It is very difficult to communicate through refereeing, and it is not something that can be easily conveyed in words. That is why I still don't know to say or what to tell people, so it is something I have to keep thinking about.
――Finally, did you enjoy the World Cup?
YAMASHITA Although I didn't have much room in my heart, I believe I did enjoy it. The experience I gained from this tournament has made me more fascinated with football and convinced me that I was on the right track. I was really surprised that I was approached by not only Japanese but also Qatari people there. I am grateful that many people have become aware of the existence of referees and the fact that there are female referees in football.
- Referees 2022/12/01 YAMASHITA Yoshimi appointed as the fourth official for Group H match between Ghana and Uruguay at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
- Referees 2022/11/30 YAMASHITA Yoshimi appointed as the fourth official for Group F match between Canada and Morocco at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
- Referees 2022/11/29 YAMASHITA Yoshimi appointed as the fourth official for Group B match between Wales and England at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
- Referees 2022/11/26 YAMASHITA Yoshimi appointed as the fourth official for Group F match between Belgium and Morocco at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
- Referees 2022/11/24 YAMASHITA Yoshimi appointed as the fourth official for Group B match between England and USA at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
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