The 38-year-old assistant judge is the first woman to represent Mexican arbitration in a World Cup, a 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 Mx League of the first division only in 2016. In six yearsher work led her to referee from the bands matches of local final instances, as well as international matches.
And now she is one of six women who will be on the courts of the World Cup.
His name joins the Brazilian Neuza Back, another of the representatives of Latin America, 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 for today to be able to be in a World Cup”, the former referee Alejandro Ayala, who formed it in its beginnings, tells BBC Mundo.
“It cost him work, yes. She had setbacks, yes. Like every woman who makes her way in a world that was relatively all for men, she costs much more work, ”she highlights.
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,” he would continue with emotion.
Arbitration? No, thanks
From a very young age, Karen Díaz was involved in soccer.
In her native Aguascalientes, she participated in the state university team and was even part of the Mexican women’s team.
She was a player with an outstanding presence on the field, explains Ayalawho has 25 years of experience in arbitration.
“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 got up. LShe 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. She was paid 55 pesos, about $5 dollars at the time.
“And when he finishes, he feels that he liked it and he remembers the invitation we had made him”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 in which a certain degree of madness is needed to be in here. It is not easy, but Karen, like all of us who are and have already gone 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 hard for him to show that he could be there. Train double to have less possibility of mistake. She does all the training at the same time as the men. She does the physical tests on her at the same time, ”explains Ayala, who is also an instructor.
Physical and mental conditions are not infallible. In her beginnings, Ayala recalls, the young referee had to learn to control herself in order to know how to control the field of play.
“Her very impetus to get things done suddenly made her make decisions a little rash. And we were correcting that, we were improving, we were saying ‘analyze, go, wait and then decide’. That happens to every referee”, says the instructor.
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 because of a gender quota, not because women have to be given an opportunity. 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. No, 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’s already worked on it. She already has it in mind, ”says Ayala.
“The day Karen Díaz debuts in the World Cup, all the eyes of the world will be watching that matchbecause a woman debuts in a World Cup”.
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Mexican referee Karen Díaz will be present at the game between Costa Rica and Germany in the Qatar 2022 World Cup