Mukansanga was the first woman to be selected for the men’s competition, though she did not end up officiating a match.
Six people have been arrested by Rwandan authorities for insulting Salima Mukansanga, who recently made history by being one of the first female referees to be selected for the men’s World Cup.
Mukansanga was the referee for Kiyovu Football Club on January 20 in Nyamata, south of Kigali, Rwanda. She was repeatedly yelled at by supporters as she officiated the club’s 0-0 draw with Gasogi United.
Kiyovu supporters voiced their frustration with Mukansanga’s decisions throughout the game, with some yelling “you’re old, you’re old, you’re old” at the 34-year-old referee.
After the final whistle, an angry fan tried to attack her as she made her way to the dressing room, but security guards stopped him before a crowd of onlookers started chanting derogatory terms at her.
Consequently, three women and three men were detained on Thursday, according to Thierry Murangira, spokesman for the Rwanda Investigative Bureau (RIB), who spoke to AFP.
“Those arrested are being investigated for hurling insults in public and for discrimination,” Murangira said.
“They are suspected to have committed these crimes during a football match between Kiyovu FC and Gasogi United and they are now in the custody of RIB.”
This week, the Rwandan Football Federation opened an investigation into the incident with a promise to hold those responsible to account.
Public insults are punishable by two to six months in jail and a fine of $500 to $3000 in Rwanda, according to the country’s Penal Code.
Those found guilty of discrimination face a five- to seven-year prison sentence.
“Investigations will continue as we prepare their dossier to be submitted to the prosecutors, while we continue to search for others who were involved in this crime.”
The local football governing body Ferwafa’s disciplinary committee may also take action against Kiyovu in addition to the fans after the federation denounced the “unsporting behaviour.”
Mukansanga was one of the three women out of the 36 referees chosen by FIFA to officiate the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
She will be heading to her second World Cup in Australia and New Zealand following her performance in Qatar.
The list of match officials selected for the Women’s World Cup has 33 referees, 55 assistant referees, and 19 Video Match Officials (VMOs), FIFA announced in a statement.
Mukansanga first made her World Cup debut in 2019, when she officiated the Women’s World Cup in France as the first female referee, and earlier last year when she became the first female centre referee to officiate the African Cup of Nations.
The full list of referees has 3 other African women, including highly experienced Vincentia Enyonam Amedome of Togo, Morocco’s Bouchra Karboubi, and Akhona Makalima of South Africa.