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Japan's first female World Cup referee gets ready for kickoff

Yoshimi Yamashita wants to turn the spotlight on women in soccer

Yoshimi Yamashita referees a J.League soccer match on Sept. 18. She was the first woman to be the head official at the men's professional soccer league in Japan.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Once so reluctant to officiate that she had to be forced into it, Yoshimi Yamashita now stands to make history as one of the first three women -- and the only one from Japan -- to serve as referees at the World Cup.

The trio will be joined by another three female assistant referees at the tournament, which opens Sunday in Qatar. Yamashita hopes that the event will help draw more attention to women in the male-dominated field.

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