- Dario Brooks
- BBC News World
Karen Díaz Medina is making history for Mexico in Qatar 2022.
The 38-year-old assistant judge is the first woman to represent Mexican arbitration in a World Cupa place reached after a notable rise in his career.
She was chosen as the linesman for the match between Costa Rica and Germany.
And it is that Díaz debuted in the Liga Mx of the first division only in 2016. In six years, her work led her to referee local final instance matches from the bands, as well as international matches.
And now it’s one of six women that will be on the courts of the World Cup.
His name joins the Brazilian Neuza Back, another Latin American representative, as well as Stéphanie Frappart (France), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda), Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan) and Kathryn Nesbitt (USA).
“Karen Díaz is not the work of chance, Karen Díaz is the product of the effort she has made for so many years, of sacrifices so that today she can be in a World Cup,” former referee Alejandro Ayala, who trained her in the beginning.
“It was hard for him, yes. He had setbacks, yes. Like all woman who makes a wayin a world that was relatively all maleit costs a lot more work,” he points out.
Reaching a World Cup is a career highlight.
“Women are also part of football. We are doing great things to be part of it,” says Díaz in an official presentation of Qatar 2022.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” she would continue with emotion.
Arbitration? No, thanks
From a very young age, Karen Díaz was involved in soccer.
In his native Aguascalientes he participated in the state university team and even She was part of the Mexican women’s team.
She was a player with an outstanding presence on the field, explains Ayala, who has 25 years of refereeing experience.
“When the game ends I tell my wife ‘Hey, I like number 10 to be a referee. I like the physique, I like the attitude, he complained to the referees, he put his leg in hard, he didn’t complain, if he fell he would she got up. She yelled at everyone, she yelled at herself. In other words, with character,” she recalls.
At the end of the game, Ayala asked him if he was interested in refereeing. But the response of that 20-year-old girl was a bucket of cold water: “Her expression was one of astonishment, of ‘Are you crazy? No, I’m not.I like the referees to yell at them’“.
Not long after, at a 7-a-side soccer game, a referee was missing and Karen Díaz took the whistle. They paid him 55 pesos, about US$5 at the time.
“And when she finishes, she feels that she liked it and she remembers the invitation we had given her,” explains Ayala, who then took her through the first steps of her professional training as a referee.
“The love for arbitration began to come to him, the taste for this profession where a certain degree of insanity is needed to be in here. It’s not easy, but Karen, like all of us who are and have been through this, we are crazy.”
his big rise
The year 2009 marked the professional debut of Karen Díaz in the third division of Mexican soccer.
From there came the difficult path of overcoming division after division up to the Mx League with the multiple aptitude and performance tests that the Referees Commission evaluates.
“It was difficult for him to show that he could be there. Train twice to have less chance of making a mistake. She does all the training at the same time as the men. He does his physical tests together,” explains Ayala, who is also an instructor.
Physical and mental conditions are not infallible. In its beginnings, remembers Ayala, the young referee had to learn control aYes herself to know how to control the field of play.
“Her very impetus to do things suddenly made her make somewhat hasty decisions. And we corrected that, we improved, we told her ‘analyze, go, wait and then decide.’ That happens to every referee”, the instructor points out.
Since his debut in the first division in 2016, he has refereed in two finals and since he obtained the FIFA international referee’s badge in 2018, he has participated in six international tournaments, most of them in the Concacaf area.
“Today people already understood that they are there, not for a gender quota, not because you have to give women a chance. Not because it occurred to the Mexican Football Federation to say you have to include a woman so they can see that we are inclusive. Nope, it is by capacity and they are there because they have worked very hard to be there“Ayala points out.
But now comes the most important test for the referee, one in which her decisions will be seen by the whole world.
“And Karen already knows that. She has already worked on it. She already has it in mind,” says Ayala.
“The day Karen Díaz makes her debut in the World Cup, all the eyes of the world will be watching that match, because a woman is making her debut in a World Cup.”
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