Pride of Africa: Moroccan Karboubi reflects on her honor in officiating AFCON clash


In a groundbreaking moment at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023, Moroccan international Bouchra Karboubi etched her name in history by becoming the first woman to officiate a match in the prestigious competition.

Karboubi’s stellar performance in the Group A clash between Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria not only showcased her competence but also marked a significant milestone for women referees in African football.

Speaking exclusively to CAFOnline on Thursday, Karboubi shared her emotions and reflections on this historic achievement.

The Honor of Representing African Women: Refereeing the Guinea-Bissau-Nigeria match was not just a professional accomplishment for Karboubi but an honor to represent African women in football. Having previously served as the first woman to officiate using VAR in the last AFCON, she expressed her pride in progressing to the role of a central referee, stating, “It was a pride for me to represent African women and to represent refereeing in Africa.”

Emotion and Happiness Upon Appointment: When Karboubi learned about her designation for this historic encounter, she described the overwhelming emotion and happiness she felt. Acknowledging the stress that naturally accompanies such a prestigious responsibility, she emphasized that once the match kicked off, the stress subsided. She regarded the appointment as a moment of pride for African women in general.

Meeting the Challenge: The Guinea Bissau – Nigeria match presented a significant challenge for Karboubi and her fellow referees. As the first all-women referee trio in AFCON history, they were acutely aware of the need to deliver a flawless performance. Karboubi emphasized, “We had no room for error because we did our best to live up to the trust that CAF placed in us.”

Acknowledgment and Competitiveness: Reflecting on the achievement, Karboubi spoke of the widespread congratulations they received. She expressed joy, particularly for the three women referees, in proving that they could match the competitiveness of their male counterparts. The trio showcased that gender is not a barrier, and women can excel at the highest level of football officiating.

CAF Referees Division’s Role: When asked about the role of the CAF Referees Division in developing women’s refereeing in Africa, Karboubi affirmed that the division is doing an excellent job. She credited their efforts for the opportunities women referees now have to officiate in high-profile matches like the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON.

Message for Young Aspiring Referees: For young girls inspired by her groundbreaking achievement, Karboubi had an empowering message. She urged them to pursue their passion and goals, emphasizing the importance of perseverance in the face of challenges. “We must continue, and with the grace of God, we can get where we want to go,” she encouraged.

Bouchra Karboubi’s trailblazing moment serves as an inspiration for aspiring female referees across Africa, marking a significant step forward in the continued development and recognition of women’s contributions to the beautiful game.

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