Soccer-Copa America to feature its first female referees

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Brasileiro Championship - Flamengo v Botafogo - Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - April 30, 2023 Botafogo's Rafael is shown a red card by referee Edina Alves Batista REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo

(Reuters) - Next month's Copa America will be the first edition of the continental men's football tournament to have female referees, South America's soccer governing body (CONMEBOL) said on Friday.

Copa America, which runs from June 20 to July 14 hosted by the United States, will have a total of 101 match officials, including eight women.

Edina Alves of Brazil and Maria Victoria Penso of the United States will be referees in the tournament. They will be supported by Tatiana Guzman of Nicaragua, a VAR official.

Brazilian Neuza Back, Mary Blanco of Colombia, Migdalia Rodriguez of Venezuela, and Americans Brooke Mayo and Kathryn Nesbitt will join as assistants.

"This is a significant commitment undertaken by CONMEBOL since 2016," CONMEBOL said in a statement.

"Aiming at the development and professionalisation of more women on and off the field, promoting gender equality in various tournaments."

In 2021, Alves became the first woman to referee a senior men's FIFA tournament at the Club World Cup. Back and Nesbitt officiated matches in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Penso, Mayo, and Nesbitt have also been selected as match officials at the 2024 Olympic football tournament in France.

(Reporting by Shifa Jahan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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