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Rwanda arrests six for insulting trailblazing female football ref


Rwandan authorities on Saturday said they had arrested six people for allegedly hurling insults at a woman who made history as one of the first female referees chosen for the men’s World Cup.

Offensive slurs were repeatedly chanted at Salima Mukansanga by fans from Kiyovu Football Club as she refereed their 0-0 draw against Gasogi United on January 20 in Nyamata, south of Kigali.

Thierry Murangira, spokesman for the Rwanda Investigative Bureau (RIB), told AFP that three women and three men were arrested on Thursday.

“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.”

“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.”

Rwanda’s football federation this week launched an investigation into the matter, vowing to name and shame those responsible.

Under Rwanda’s Penal Code, public insults carry a penalty of two to six months in jail and a fine ranging from $500 to $3000.

Anyone found guilty of discrimination can be jailed for five to seven years.

Mukansanga was among three women in the list of 36 referees selected by FIFA to referee in the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

It was the first time women had been called up for the men’s event, though Mukansanga did not end up officiating a match.

The 34-year-old made history last year by becoming the first woman to referee at the Africa Cup of Nations. She also officiated at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.