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Soccer Calm and in control at Super Cup, Stéphanie Frappart blazes trail for female referees in soccer

French referee Stéphanie Frappart admonishes several Chelsea players during the Super Cup on Wednesday.

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

In the highest-profile men’s game yet for a female referee, Stéphanie Frappart made it look like any other.

A month after she oversaw the Women’s World Cup final, the French ref dealt with everything in Wednesday’s Super Cup game between Liverpool and Chelsea — star players’ tantrums, soccer’s tangled handball rules, and the physical test of extra time.

Such was her control, her milestone presence was hardly felt.

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In only the sixth minute, she made the crucial call not to give Liverpool a penalty when Sadio Mané’s scissor-kick shot hit Andreas Christensen’s arm.

The thorny issue of exactly what constitutes an “unnatural” arm position has been much discussed lately, not least when Liverpool won a penalty against Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko in similar circumstances in the Champions League final, but the video-assistant referee system didn’t review Frappart’s call.

Frappart had few problems keeping pace with the world’s top male players — a concern sometimes voiced by critics of female referees — and was quietly authoritative.

Frappart kept Chelsea’s players under control when they twice had goals ruled out for offside on the way to a penalty-shootout loss to Liverpool .

She greeted aggrieved players with a firmly outstretched palm and faced down objections calmly, such as when Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta was upset to receive a booking for shoving Mane. Frappart could be jovial too, smiling and patting Chelsea’s Jorginho on the back after blowing the whistle for halftime.

For the Super Cup, Frappart was accompanied by assistants Manuela Nicolosi of France and Michelle O’Neal from Ireland, reuniting the team which officiated the United States’ win over the Netherlands in the Women’s World Cup final last month.

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