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AFCON: Bouchra Karboubi, the first North African woman to referee a men’s match

Referee Bouchra Karboubi gestures during the AFCON between Guinea Bissau and Nigeria Monday, Jan. 22, 2024.   -  
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Themba Hadebe/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

AFCON 2023

Bouchra Karboubi became last month, the first North African woman to referee a men’s match at AFCON on January 22nd.

She made history by joining Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and officiating at Africa’s biggest football event.

“ In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful, the feeling is that we will be the first Arab referee in the African Cup, which is the largest football event," Karboubi says.

"It is a great pride for me and a great joy, an overwhelming joy and a feeling of pride that I represent Moroccan women and Arab women in this football event.”

The 36-year-old took charge of her first match at the 2018 Women's Africa Cup of Nations.

She says her career in the police serves her refereeing practise.

"Certainly, my work as a policewoman had a positive impact on Bouchra Karbouki, the court referee. One of the basic rules of the police is to be impartial in order to apply the law impartially and with commitment. I mean, all of these are nothing but positive things that were reflected on Bouchra, the referee."

Bouchra Karboubi hopes she will “set an example for women...and the next generation of will be in greater and greater demand."

She led an all-female team of officials - another tournament first - when Nigeria beat Guinea-Bissau last month.

She praised the Confederation of African Football refereeing division. 

"It is certain that the CAF refereeing division is really doing an excellent job to develop women's refereeing in Africa. The fact that we are here, that we are officiating such matches shows the fruit of the work that they are doing," she told CAF.